Students and Professors: Help Stop Patent Trolls

We were so close to stopping patent trolls. The House passed a strong bill, and the President was ready to sign it… then the Senate stepped in and decided not to act.

The fight isn't over. We'll continue to urge our elected officials to fix our broken patent system. Many universities have sided with trial lawyers and the pharmaceutical lobby in fighting against patent reform, so it's up to students and researchers to show Congress that the future of innovation relies on a world without patent trolls. And to get there, we need strong changes.

Dear Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley:

We undersigned write to urge you to support common-sense patent reform. It has come to our attention that over 100 universities, including many of our own, have joined up alongside PhRMA and companies like Monsanto in speaking out against much needed reform of our broken patent system.

Their position is severely flawed. We—as university researchers, students, and innovators—are entering into an environment ridden with the threat of abusive entitles like patent trolls and costly, unnecessary litigation. This ecosystem discourages the realization of new ideas and inventions.

Universities are supposed to be places where scholars and students have access to the resources to imagine and design technologies that keep America on the cutting edge. The current patent system, overrun with abusive patent trolls, is antithetical to what universities and the patent system aim to foster: inventiveness and the proliferation of new ideas. Under today’s conditions, students' and researchers' pursuits will be chilled by the knowledge that their efforts will be consistently under threat, too costly to pursue. 

The listed universities claim that many of the bill’s provisions “assume that every patent holder is a patent troll.” This simply is not true. Proposed reform language carefully ensures that valid patent holders are not affected, and the proposals' transparency requirements help to serve both the public and the future of American innovation.

Patent trolls cost the country more than $29 billion per year. Though universities directly participate in only a fraction of cases, they have regularly licensed their technologies to patent trolls. For example, at least sixty American universities have sold patents to Intellectual Ventures, one of the most notorious patent assertion entities. Inventions that originate in our schools, largely funded by public tax dollars, are being abused by companies that do not comport with the missions of our universities nor the progress of innovation.

We call on our Senators to support sound policy and pick up where the House of Representative left off—with strong legislation that tackles the patent troll problem. We were dismayed to see the letter from academic institutions calling for further delay in fixing our broken patent system.

Now is the time to support the future of American innovation and pass meaningful reform.


Wall of Shame: The academic institutions that fought against patent reform in the Senate:

American Council on Education
Arizona State University
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of American Universities
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
Association of University Technology Managers
Auburn University
Ball State University
Boston University
Brandeis University
Brown University
California Healthcare Institute (CHI)
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
City College of New York
Clemson University
Cleveland State University
College of William & Mary
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
Colorado State University System
Cornell University
Duke University
Emory University
Florida A&M University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Idaho State University
Indiana University
Iowa State University
Johns Hopkins University
Kansas State University
Louisiana Tech University
Miami University
Michigan State University
Michigan Technological University
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Montana State University
New Mexico State University
New York University
North Carolina State University
Northern Illinois University
Northwestern University
Ohio State University
Ohio University
Oklahoma State University
Oregon State University
Pennsylvania State University
Portland State University
Purdue University
Rice University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
San Francisco State University
South Dakota State University
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Stony Brook University – State University of New York
Texas State University
Texas Tech University
Tulane University
University at Buffalo – State University of New York
University of Akron
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of Cincinnati
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado System
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Hawaii
University of Houston
University of Idaho
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois System
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Massachusetts
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Missouri – Kansas City
University of Missouri – St. Louis
University of Missouri System
University of Montana
University of Nebraska
University of New Hampshire
University of New Mexico
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
University of North Carolina System
University of North Texas
University of Oklahoma
University of Oregon
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Rhode Island
University of Rochester
University of South Carolina
University of South Florida
University of Southern California
University of Tennessee System
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Dallas
University of Toledo
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin Colleges
University of Wisconsin System
University of Wisconsin-Extension
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
University of Wyoming
University System of Maryland
Washington State University
Washington University in St. Louis
Wayne State University
West Virginia State University
West Virginia University
Western Michigan University
Yale University

Fill out the form below. We'll send this letter to the Senate and your university to make sure they hear us loud and clear: it's time to put an end to patent trolls.
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