Patent Nonuse and Technology Suppression: The Use of Compulsory Licensing to Promote Progress

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently and adamantly held that patents do not require patentees to use or commercialize their inventions. Rather, patents simply grant inventors the right to exclude others from using or producing their inventions. That exclusive right, once granted, cannot be taken away because of a right holder’s failure to work the patent. Great societal harm results, however, when patentees fail to commercialize their patents or deliberately and strategically suppress technologies purely for financial gain.

This Comment argues that utilizing compulsory licensing to combat patent nonuse and technology suppression can help to better achieve the primary goal of the Intellectual Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Compulsory licensing that compensates inventors through reasonable and marketplace-based royalty rates will ensure that inventors continue to develop and disclose their research and discoveries to the public. Furthermore, by weakening intellectual property rights on a limited scale, Congress can ensure that patents are made available to the highest-value users who can best use these patents to achieve efficient societal innovation and progress. This Comment therefore questions why patentees are not required to at least make good faith efforts to practice their patents.

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