PublishedFebruary 20, 2014

Obama Administration Stays Focused on Patent Quality

President Obama on PhoneLast June, the Obama Administration announced a number of executive actions to tackle the patent troll problem and improve patent quality. President Obama also talked about patent reform in his State of the Union speech this year. Today, the Administration followed up with a progress report and some new actions.

Overall, there are good developments to report. The USPTO has moved forward with rules requiring patent owners to disclose the full chain of ownership, which should help deal with the problem of patent trolls using shell companies to hide the real owners. The USPTO is also launching a pilot program that will try to use glossaries in patent applications to make patent claims clearer.

Today the USPTO launched the website http://www.uspto.gov/patents/litigation to provide information to “main street” businesses that get sued by patent trolls.

And the Administration announced today that it’s reaching out to industry to get help gathering prior art and training examiners in current technology.

These are all positive steps, and the Administration’s recognition of the need for dealing with poor quality patents and patent trolls has been a major factor in moving reform forward. The Administration has renewed its push for patent reform legislation as well.

The House of Representatives passed the Innovation Act late last year, and now the Senate needs to pass similar legislation; the PTO needs the help to deal with low quality patents that are too often the basis for costly, abusive and frivolous litigation by patent assertion entities.

Only Congress can put a stop to abusive patent litigation tactics and make patent trolling less profitable. Hopefully, the Administration’s attention to the issue will help patent reform keep momentum in the Senate so that we can get a good bill done this year.

Matt Levy

Previously, Matt was patent counsel at the Computer & Communications Industry Association

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