Even if you designed your product/software 18 years ago, they can still sue you over the patent if it's still in use. The damage they can recover may be limited to the last 6 years, but if they can shut you down unless you pay them whatever they ask for, does it really matter?
As an example, look at the fuss over the .gif patent, they waited until just before it was due to expire to start suing people
You can view this as requiring them to assert a claim, or you can view it as a streamlined way of getting a declaration of non-infringement.
The normal standard is that the courts assume that everyone is acting in good faith, and that is how horid abuses of the system like Prenda Law have been getting away with it.
I think there's enough of a track record now showing abuse of this presumption to make it a serious question of if it should continue.
Requiring patent holders to say more than "out of the millions of patents we own, we think you infringe something, pay us what we demand" and instead specify exactly which patents when asked, on the pain of not being able to assert any other patents sounds like a very modest change.
From a legal standpoint, this can't possibly be an unreasonable burden on the patent owners (especially if they par paid a reasonable amount for the question).
The patent owners know their patents, they are only being asked to search them against what's being described in the request. If the request doesn't document something, the declaration of non-infringement doesn't apply to the undocumented things.
And currently it's not considered an unreasonable thing to require companies to search all the patents from all companies to see if they infringe on _any_ of them. The search of patents you own and are familiar with is trivial by comparison.
I also don't expect this to be used a whole lot. It will cost money to contact companies and get them to do this, but there are cases where it really should be done.
There are a relative handful of companies that are likely to assert patents offensively, and while this list changes over time, getting them to specify what patents they think are infringed is important.
As an example
Microsoft claims that Linux and Android infringe on it's Patents, but nobody outside of Microsoft has any clue which ones (When they went after B&N, B&N made public a few of them, and they were weak enough that when the case settled, B&N didn't pay Microsoft a dime).
The fact that Microsoft makes more money from Android than from their own Phone shows just how broken the system is.
If nothing else, refusing to identify the specific patents when asked means that it's impossible to change the design to not infringe on them, and this should negate any chance for an Injunction barring the product, and severely limit any damages
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