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经济学人:美国专利法改革 山上的巨魔

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商业报道
Patent reform in America
美国专利法改革
Trolls on the hill
山上的巨魔
Congress takes aim at patent abusers
国会瞄准了滥用专利权者
IN SCANDINAVIAN folklore trolls were dumpy with grotesque faces and uncontrollable hair.
在斯堪的纳维亚半岛的民间传说里,巨魔们都是长着丑脸、披着乱发的矮胖形象。
These horrifying creatures have given their name to patent trolls, who buy up lots of vaguely worded patents and then use them to extract cash from unsuspecting victims—who pay them off rather than risk a pricey lawsuit.
这些令人恐惧的生物已经将名头赋予那些专利流氓们了,这些人收购大量含糊名称的专利并用来赚无辜受害者的钱,而这些受害者宁愿肤浅给流氓们也不愿意冒险打官司花更多的钱。

It is not hard to identify the obvious ones, but writing laws to catch them without endangering everyone else is.

现在不难去定义这些很明显的案例,但是立法去抓这些流氓们而不伤及无辜就有难度了。
Having tried once with the America Invents Act of 2011, Congress is having another go.
既2011年的美国发明法案的尝试后,国会正在尝试另一种方法。
The Innovation Act looks set to become law by the end of the year, after attracting an unusual amount of support from both parties.
创新法案在引起了两党内部不寻常的支持率之后,看似会在年底确定成为正式法律。
Over the past few decades there has been a rapid increase in the number of lawsuits over intellectual-property infringements.
在过去的几十年里,侵犯专利权诉讼的数量持续快速增长。
According to Jim Bessen of BostonUniversity, since the early 1980s the number has increased sixfold.
根据波士顿大学的Jim Bessen的数据,在20世纪80年代早期,诉讼就已增加了六倍。
That might merely be a sign that there has been lots of innovation, but the threefold increase in the number of lawsuits per patent filed over the same period suggests that something else is going on.
这可能是出现很多创新产品的迹象,但是在同时期在平均每项专利上申请的诉讼增加了三倍就说明滋生了其他的问题。
Many patent cases involve companies defending real innovations from copycats.
很多公司在涉及侵犯专利案时都是为了保护真正的创新不被剽窃。
But a large number are pure shakedowns, says Josh Mendelsohn of Engine Advocacy, a lobby group for startups.
但是来自Engine Advocacy的Josh Mendelsohn说,很多案例都是纯粹的敲诈。 Engine Advocacy是一家为创业公司开办的游说团体。
He says some venture capitalists have to give extra cash to the firms they have backed just to fight off trolls.
他认为一些风投家必须投资更多的钱给那些公司以便支持他们摆脱专利巨魔的侵袭。
Since patent lawsuits can be filed against the end users of new technologies, startups can find that customers will only deal with them if they are indemnified against future infringements.
因为专利诉讼只能被新技术的终端使用者申请,创业公司能发现,消费者们只会在一种情况下使用这申请,那就是如果在未来的侵权案例被要求赔偿专利者损失。
It is often cheaper and quicker to pay up.
这种情形通常比付专利费更加便宜、便捷。
Though the patent system touches all areas of business, the problem is concentrated in software.
虽然专利系统涉及商业的所有领域,但是问题主要集中在软件专利上面。
Such patents are often abstract, dealing in descriptions of what the software does rather than in lines of code.
这类的专利总是抽象的,它们描述软件处理的工作而不是具体的编码。
Timothy Holbrook of EmoryUniversityinAtlantadoubts that fixing the problems caused by these abstract patents requires a new law.
亚特兰大埃默里大学教授猜想需要一部新的法律来修复这类由抽象专利引起的问题。
Todd Dickinson, of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, says that the 2011 law has provisions to deal with such problems and just needs time to settle in.
美国知识产权法协会说,2011年的法律就有专门规定处理类似问题并且只需要时间去判定。
Those arguments have been brushed aside, for two reasons.
因为两个理由,那些争论就被搁置一边了。
First, the troll problem faced by tech investors is not getting better.
第一,技术投资者面临的专利流氓问题没有起色。
Second, the sending of threatening patent-infringement letters has become speculative.
第二,散发专利侵权的威胁信已经令人们怀疑。
Even restaurants and grocery shops have received letters threatening them with a patent lawsuit, over such things as offering Wi-Fi to customers or mapping their locations online.
甚至餐馆和杂货店都收到了类似于他们侵犯了专利权要提起诉讼的信件,例如将免费无线网提供给顾客或者在网上标明他们的方位。
Not all congressmen have tech startups in their districts, but most have constituents who have had letters telling them to pay $500.
不是所有国会议员在他们的选区里都有技术型创业企业,但大部分都有选民遇到过被要求支付500$专利费的信件。
Those threatened with lawsuits must pay just to find out about their alleged infringement and can run up large legal bills even when they win.
这些诉讼威胁里必须付所谓侵权的钱和即便专利流氓们赢了所花的诉讼费是差不多的。
By shifting the costs of litigation on to the loser and forcing patent holder to disclose what the infringement is, the Innovation Act hopes to change this.
创新法案希望改变一个现状,就是转移这些诉讼费到输家身上,并强迫专利持有者揭露侵权的集体行为是什么。
There is probably no perfect equilibrium that protects inventors without stifling new inventions.
可能没有完美保持平衡的法律,既能保护发明家们权利又能不揭露新发明。
At the moment the scales are weighted in one direction.
现在,天平还是倾向一个方向。
The new act would add some balance.
新的法案会增加一些平衡性。
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code [kəud]

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n. 码,密码,法规,准则
vt. 把 ...

 
merely ['miəli]

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adv. 仅仅,只不过

 
property ['prɔpəti]

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n. 财产,所有物,性质,地产,道具

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abstract ['æbstrækt]

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n. 摘要,抽象的东西
adj. 抽象的,理论

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concentrated ['kɔnsentreitid]

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adj. 全神贯注的,浓缩的 动词concentrate

 
speculative ['spekju.lətiv]

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adj. 推测的,推理的,思索的,投机的

 
burglar ['bə:glə]

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n. 窃贼

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intellectual [.intil'ektʃuəl]

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n. 知识份子,凭理智做事者
adj. 智力的

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innovation [.inəu'veiʃən]

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n. 创新,革新

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settle ['setl]

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v. 安顿,解决,定居
n. 有背的长凳

 

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