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A hugely active decade where patent values peaked and began a significant decline. The American Invents Act (AIA, 2011) established the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a hurdle designed to discourage unnecessary litigation but that in practice led to widespread decrease in licensing. Many parties, especially SMEs and independent inventors, believe the AIA over-reached, and its goal of improving the IP system by discouraging unnecessary litigation ultimately slowed innovation.


The "efficient infringement" strategy grew in the 2010s, enabling well-capitalized businesses to use inventions of others with relative impunity. If potential licensors do not sue first they cannot have a meaningful business discussion, as in the past. Patent cases can take five years or more and cost over $10 million. Additionally, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board introduced additional arguably unfair hurdles to enforcement. 

Bankrupt Canadian telecommunications giant, Nortel, sells its patent portfolio in 2011 to a group led by Apple and Microsoft for $4.5 billion. Patent litigation declines after the enactment of AIA; so does licensing. Despite the start of success in the cloud, electric vehicles and in other areas, the U.S. falls to #12 in innovation, in part a result of less research spending and a less competitive environment for research. 

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