Advocating for Principled Patent Licensing

Efforts to promote transparency and other responsible practices within the patent licensing industry continue to gain strength following Conversant’s announcement last November of its 10-point set of guidelines for principled patent licensing.

Finjan Inc., a developer and licensor of patented cyber security software, last week committed itself to a series of licensing best practices aimed at ensuring “candid, transparent, and consistent business practices” in the licensing field.  According to Finjan president Phil Hartstein, the company’s licensing best practices are aimed at combatting the abusive practices of “patent trolls” who threaten America’s patent system and unnecessarily raise costs for innovators, especially small businesses. Hartstein, who has had a long career in the patent industry, emphasized that Finjan also hopes to foster more dialog within the industry about ethical business practices.

Conversant agrees completely with the need for more discussion and debate within the patent industry over best practices.  As I argued in a national law journal article last week, “it’s time for patent licensors to take the lead in reform. It is simply bad strategy for industry leaders to remain silent about the patent troll issue for fear that some will try to tar responsible licensors with the same brush.”