Champlain Legal Studies to Host Panel on Patent Trolls

Bessen Patent Abuse Panel

Champlain College Legal Studies will host a panel discussion about the topic of Patent Abuse, on Monday, Sept. 30,at 9 a.m. in Alumni Auditorium. According to Legal Studies Program Director Eric Friedman, the panel will also look at how this practice affects several career fields within various majors offered at Champlain College. The event is free and open to the public.

The panel will include:

  • Vermont business owners who have suffered at the hands of trolls.

  • U.S Rep. Peter Welch, who has sponsored a bill to curb patent abuse.

  • Prof. James Bessen of Boston University, a leading academic who will discuss the destructive impact patent trolls are having. (at left)

They will discuss what Vermont has accomplished and efforts by Congress to fix the broken system.

Patent Abuse — also known as "patent trolling" — involves sending a demand letter to, or filing a lawsuit against,bessen an innocent company. Patent trolls do not develop inventions, do not make products, do not sell products, and do not create jobs. According to Friedman, patent trolls are "companies" that typically have purchased broad, vague patents that probably should never have been granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the first place. The patent trolls purchase these questionable patents for the sole purpose of improperly threatening large numbers of companies with patent infringement. Often the patent troll's threat letter gives the targeted business a short period of time to pay the license fee, or face a possible lawsuit in a distant federal court.

Patent panel Increasingly, the targets are small and medium sized businesses. These businesses are typically app developers, web developers, and e-commerce retailers. James Bessen of Boston University, one of the speakers at the panel discussion, has estimated that patent trolls cost businesses $29 billion in 2011.

The issue has gained significant visibility in Vermont. Earlier this year, the Vermont legislature passed the first in the nation law to curb patent trolling. The Vermont Attorney General brought the first in the nation lawsuit against a patent troll.

On a national level, there are seven bills pending in the House and Senate aimed at reforming patent law to curb this abusive behavior.

For more information, contact Eric Friedman.

For more information about patent abuse -

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Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit