In the HBO show Silicon Valley, a patent describing a technique that could replace paid services with free ones is an important plot point. The patent was never used and seems to have never had an intent to be used.

In the United States, is it possible for a corporation to receive a patent for an idea, so that they can prevent it from going to market and hurting their business?

I'm aware that recent changes have targeted non-practicing entities, but it's unclear to me where the lines are.

Are there any notable real-world examples of this happening?


I've learned about compulsory licensing, but I'm curious about if those laws have been used to force a company to withholding a patent.


1 Answer 1


There is no "use it or lose it" concept in U.S. patent law. A patent does not even give its owner the right to use their invention, let alone mandate it. A patent, in any country, is fundamentally a right to prevent others from doing something. Some countries do have a "working" requirement, where the patent owner needs to agree to license their patent if they have not commercialized it themselves within a certain time limit. India is an example of a location that has compulsory licensing. There is a bias (in my view) against non-practicing entities that affects their ability to get an injunction against infringers.

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