A lunch discussion hosted by the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy on February 1 featured a talk by Jason Schultz, currently a visiting professor at NYU Law and faculty co-director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.
Schultz discussed the Defensive Patent License (DPL) project, co-created with Berkeley colleague Jennifer Urban. In the DPL scheme, entities would join an “open innovation community” in which members would grant patent licenses to one another that are “royalty-free, perpetual, and generally irrevocable.” Such a network, Schultz said, would allow small companies and startups, for example, greater freedom to operate and innovate upon breakthroughs achieved by others. It would do so, he said, while reducing the dangers of patent trolls and patent hoarders who are out to make money through threats and lawsuits but do not contribute innovations of their own.
The DPL system would not leave participants vulnerable to outside threats, Schultz said, since members could still sue out-of-network entities offensively. And current members would have to give six months’ notice if they chose to end their participation; while they could then leave the network, their perpetual and royalty-free licenses would continue to be in effect for those entities remaining.
Apart from creating a business case against the argument favoring an increase in traditional patents, Schultz said, the DPL scheme would force the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to confront issues of low-quality patents and overpatenting and, further, would be compatible with other solutions to current patenting problems. “We don’t think this is a panacea. It’s not going to solve every patent quality or patent troll problem, but it can complement all the other solutions that are out there.” He fielded questions from attendees during a question-and-answer session moderated by Professor Katherine Strandburg, a co-director of the Engelberg Center.
Also participating was Christopher Kin-Man Wong, who joined the Law School in the fall as the Engelberg Center’s new executive director. Wong came to NYU Law from the Institute for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School, where he was a postgraduate fellow. Wong was also a visiting fellow at both Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy and the Yale Law School Information Society Project. He is currently the lead researcher of Open Patent, a National Science Foundation-funded program to explore the use of user-generated tags in improving access to and understanding of patent information. Wong previously served as the founding project manager of Peer to Patent, an initiative allowing the public to contribute to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s patent examination process. He has a J.D. from New York Law School and a BSBA in information technology from the University of Denver.
Posted on February 8, 2013