Patent thicket

A patent thicket is "a dense web of overlapping intellectual property rights that a company must hack its way through in order to actually commercialize new technology." [ Carl Shapiro, [ "Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard-Setting"] , 2001, Innovation Policy and the Economy (Vol. I) (Jaffe, E. et al., eds), pp. 119–150, MIT Press. ]

The expression may come from "SCM Corp. v. Xerox Corp." patent litigation case in the 1970s, wherein SCM's central charge had been that Xerox constructed a "patent thicket" to prevent competition. [ Donald Paneth, "News Dictionary, 1978", Published 1979, Facts On File, Inc., pa. 9, ISBN 0871961075]

Patent thickets are used to defend against competitors designing around a single patent. This is particularly true in the electronics industry. [ [ Rubinfeld, Maness, “The Strategic Use of Patents: Implications for Antitrust”, Draft September 18, 2004.] ]

A "patent thicket" was also defined as "the utilization by a patent owner of some patents but not others, or the failure to license others for the purpose of obtaining or maintaining an illegal monopoly." [ Kenneth Robert Redden, Enid Veron, "Modern Legal Glossary", 1980, Michie Co., p. 398, ISBN 0872152375 ]

Patent thickets are also sometimes called "patent floods". [ "...multiplicity of patents, referred to as “patent thickets” and “patent floods” ..." in Mattias Ganslandt, [ "Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy"] , IFN Working Paper No. 726, 2008, page 12. ]


See also

* Design around
* Essential patent
* Patent ambush
* Patent holding company
* Patent pool
* Patent portfolio
* Patent troll

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