The President Takes on Patent Trolls

president obama vs. patent trolls

President Barack Obama announced plans today that will address concerns surrounding the antiquated patent system in the US.  The plans include a series of five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations to curtail the number of patent-related lawsuits bogging down the nation’s legal system while encouraging and rewarding the people who really create new technologies.

“As technology evolves more rapidly than ever, we must ensure our patent system keeps pace,” reads the White House press release.

The legislative recommendations are designed to guide Congress to develop new laws to solve these issues, whereas the executive actions are real steps that the Obama Administration will carry out.

The most notable of the actions is the naming “Real Party-in-Interest”; stopping Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), ahem, patent trolls, from making money from the ideas of the true innovators. All companies will be required to identify the real or parent owner of the patents to create complete transparency in the intentions of the patent creation. The Patent and Trademark Office will be empowered to enforce the new standards as well.

Other actions laid out by the Administration intend to calm the storm of technology patent wars between the likes of Apple and Samsung, and others. They will also protect end users from punishment for using a product as intended (it’s ludicrous that this is even an issue), train USPTO examiners to understand each technology to improve claim clarity, and engage patent holders with the government to maintain an ongoing conversation about the issue as technology improves.

The President has already shown enthusiasm for patent reform in previous legislative actions. The America Invents Act of 2011 changed the patent system from “first-to-file” to “first-to-invent”, which became effective as of March 16th of this year. During a Google+ hangout in February, the President said that AIA only accomplished about half of what would be necessary to create “smarter” patent laws. Today’s announcement was a strong follow up to work towards finishing the job.

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  • Ron

    Wrong!! Change was from first to invent to first to file. A real step back in promoting innovation.

  • chrisnj

    I really doubt this is as much about protecting innovators and their ability to profit from their innovations, and more about further paving the way for the government to ultimately hold all ownership (and control) of anything new. More political selection of economic “winners and losers”, under which we will all ultimately lose.