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Cost of defending yourself against patent litigation

Patent Freedom's numbers

Some numbers:

  • Dealing with a threat letter (an "assertion"): US$200,000.
  • Total costs incurred by defendants in 2009 in the USA: US$5 billion (excluding what was paid in settlements and judgements)


(This article is for documenting what the costs are, but I'd like to leave this note first.)

In software, where practitioners are often individuals and SMEs, the cost of defending oneself is impossible to pay. The courts form a necessary form of checks and balances in the patent system, and if practitioners can't make use of the courts, the patents system doesn't work for those people. There is thus no justice for software developers when they have to work within the patent system. (See: Why software is different)

Even when you win you lose: Paltalk v. Jagex

It is exceedingly unfortunate that the US legal system can force a company with a sole presence in Cambridge, UK to incur a seven-digit expense and waste over a year of management time on a case with absolutely no merit

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Related pages on ESP Wiki

Why abolish software patents
Why abolish software patents Why focus only on software · Why software is different · Software patent quality worse than all other fields · Harm caused by all types of patents
Legal arguments Software is math · Software is too abstract · Software does not make a computer a new machine · Harming freedom of expression · Blocking useful freedoms
High costs Costly legal costs · Cost of the patent system to governments · Cost barrier to market entry · Cost of defending yourself against patent litigation
Impact on society Restricting freedom Harm without litigation or direct threats · Free software projects harmed by software patents · More than patent trolls · More than innovation · Slow process creates uncertainty
Preventing progress Software relies on incremental development · Software progress happens without patents · Reducing innovation and research · Software development is low risk · Reducing job security · Harming education · Harming standards and compatibility
Disrupting the economy Used for sabotage · Controlling entire markets · Breaking common software distribution models · Blocking competing software · Harming smaller businesses · Harming all types of businesses · A bubble waiting to burst
Problems of the legal system Problems in law Clogging up the legal system · Disclosure is useless · Software patents are unreadable · Publishing information is made dangerous · Twenty year protection is too long
Problems in litigation Patent trolls · Patent ambush · Invalid patents remain unchallenged · Infringement is unavoidable · Inequality between small and large patent holders