Posted on 21 August 2013
The international patent system is encountering serious problems caused by the litigation strategies of so-called patent "trolls" and by "thickets" of overlapping patents created by defensive patenting tactics. These thickets, in particular, can create significant commercial barriers for small and medium-sized enterprises. York Law School specialist in intellectual property law, Dr Peter Harrison, appeared this week on "Patently Absurd", a BBC Radio Four documentary which examines these problems. In the programme the BBC's Technology Correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, visits Marshall, a small town in Texas, on the hunt for "trolls" and their "victims". Marshall has become a major centre for patent litigation in the United States - this is the home of the "rocket docket" - where the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas provides litigants with relatively rapid results. Before Rory heads to Texas, he meets Peter at the National Railway Museum in York to discuss the rationale for patents, their history, and their impact on industrial development. Peter later discusses the problems that patent abuses cause to UK businesses. The programme has been identified as a radio "Pick of the Week" by The Daily Telegraph and others. You can hear the programme through the BBC' AudioGO website here.