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The BBC published a news report on Tuesday about a paper released by Boston University professors James Bessen and Michael Meurer on Monday. The report’s headline was 'Patent trolls' cost other US bodies $29bn last year, says study. You can read what Bessen and Meurer have to say here; while both the Gametime IP and Patentology blogs have published pieces that question the assumptions the two make, as well as the conclusions they reach.
For me, the most important point to note is that the term NPE as used by Bessen and Meurer covers a wide range of entities, ranging from what most would agree are little more than low-level extortion rackets, through universities, to even include operating companies that happen to be asserting patents that may well be the result of considerable R&D spend even if they are not used in products put out by these companies. Lumping them all together like that is crude and not a little disingenuous. What’s more, the data that the two use is supplied by RPX, which, as Patentology notes, is not an entirely disinterested observer. Just like PatentFreedom, whose data Bessen and Meurer have based work on in the past, RPX has a direct financial stake in talking the NPE “problem" up, because fear of NPE assertions is what makes them their money.
But let’s put all that to one side. What I find truly fascinating about the work that Bessen and Meurer do is the extraordinary coverage it gets. Whether it is accurate or not, what it does do very quickly is become an accepted truth in the general media. That’s because it is so well placed in terms of the sources who get it. We are not talking specialist trade press or obscure journals when it comes to the work of these two academics, we are talking about one the world’s most widely read news websites in the case of the BBC; while previous pieces have been given extensive coverage by the likes of CNN Money and the Washington Post. And these stories do not appear weeks after the research is published, they are contemporaneous with it.
Whatever you may think of what Bessen and Meurer do, you can only admire their PR-savviness. To get media outlets that are bombarded with potential stories each day to consistently cover their stuff, and almost always so unquestioningly, is no mean feat. Big, very well resourced corporations pay huge amounts of money for that kind of PR skill. And I’ll say no more than that.
Licensing, IP litigation, Patents, IP business
Their PR- savviness?
Extremely well rounded pieces by Gametime IP and Patentology......almost completely ignored! I have been saying for sometime that there is something unsavoury about the anti-NPE movement. The important issue is that they are hitting home at the political level.
It is incumbent upon the IP Community not to pander to this anti-NPE rhetoric and to publicise a dispassionate, well researched and rounded assessment of the real position. It is shameful that we see IP professionals beating the anti-NPE drum in a clearly partisan or sometimes ill-informed manner.
I would challenge Bessen and Mauer to undertake a similar assessment of the highly damaging effects of the Patent Gorillas on the SME and acceptable NPE arena. This schism that we see and polarised position damages the reputation of the patent system and undermines innovation and investment.Nicholas White, Tangible IP on 28 Jun 2012 @ 22:55