William Watkins Archive

William J. Watkins Jr. is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute.
Full Biography and Recent Publications

New Study Links Patent Trolls to Decline in R&D Spending and Other Ills



A new paper (“Patent Trolls: Evidence from Targeted Firms”) written by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Texas offers more evidence of the harm that patent trolls cause to the American economy. The data show that (1) trolls target companies flush with cash, (2) seek targets likely to settle rather than litigate, and (3)...
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Tech Companies Work to Tame Patent Trolls without Government Help



In the wake of Congress failing to pass patent litigation reform this year, the private sector has gotten into gear and has taken matters into its own hands. Tech companies have formed LOTNet. This article from Motherboard sums up this new idea: As they say, if you can’t go through, go around. Enter the License...
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SCOTUS Affirms That Abstract Ideas Are Not Patent-Eligible



It is no secret that innovation suffers because of the current state of patent law. Too many overly broad patents are issued and present patent trolls with the opportunity to sue, sue, and sue again. Today, the High Court in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, made abundantly clear that abstract ideas are not patentable....
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Patent Troll Hit with Legal Fees



The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good post up on how the patent troll Lumen View just got hit with a fee award in federal court. This is in part because of recent Supreme Court decisions making it easier for defendants to collect attorney’s fees when they win patent suits. The troll’s patent was but a description...
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Big Pharma, Trial Lawyers, and Harry Reid Kill Patent Reform



Now that the smoke has cleared after the collapse of efforts to push patent litigation reform legislation through Congress, pundits are busy discussing just what happened. The President and members of both parties agreed that some reform was necessary. Reform legislation seemed to be a sure thing. Sources close to the negotiations on reform indicate...
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Patent Trolls and Trial Lawyers Thwart Patent Reform



Time reports that Sen. Pat Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has pulled the patent reform legislation from the Senate’s agenda. Here is a snippet from the article: Needless to say, trial lawyers are among the groups that benefit the most from rampant patent litigation. Engine Advocacy, a non-profit group that works...
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Apple and Google Announce a Ceasefire in the Patent Wars



Time has a good story on the decision of Apple and Google to dismiss all the current IP lawsuits between the two companies. They have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. No doubt patent trolls were sorry to see the two giants redirect resources. The millions that went into...
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Patent Litigation Is No Laughing Matter... Or Is It?



As pointed out in my forthcoming Independent Institute book, Patent Trolls: Predatory Litigation and the Smothering of Innovation, the American patent system is in need of an overhaul. This is no laughing matter, but Stephen Colbert, in the following, recent segment from “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central takes Amazon to task for claiming...
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Commerce, Economic Activity, Obamacare, and the Anti-Federalists



Recently, I have written a couple of short op-eds (see here and here) arguing that commerce, to the Framers and ratifiers of the Constitution, did not mean economic activity, gainful activity, etc. It means trade–among the states or with foreign nations, or with Indians. The purpose of the interstate Commerce Clause, which should guide interpretation, is creation of...
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Florida District Judge Hints that Obamacare Is Unconstitutional



Right now the score card is 2 judges in favor and one against the insurance mandate. According to reports, it might soon be 2-2. This report is from the New York Times: In a three-hour hearing, the judge, Roger Vinson of Federal District Court, said the law’s requirement that most Americans obtain insurance, a...
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