The still commonly used but politically incorrect “patent troll” epithet was barely heard throughout eight hours of lively dialogue at the December 10, 2012 FTC- DOJ Workshop on Patent Assertion Entity Activities. The day was devoted to an exploration of “the impact of patent assertion entity (PAE) activities on innovation and competition and the implications for antitrust enforcement and policy. The workshop was organized to “examine the economic and legal implications of PAE activity, as distinguished from prototypical ‘non-practicing entity’ (NPE) activity, such as developing and transferring technology.” Put another way, the entities whose practices were to be examined excluded universities, garage inventors and other such engines of innovation. The focus was upon entities that only purchase patents from existing owners and thereafter seek to maximize revenues through licensing or litigating against manufacturers that are already using the patented technology.
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