Monday, May 20, 2024

White House Targets Patent Trolls

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President Obama is taking aim at patent trolls with a series of executive actions and calls for Congress to pass legislation. Many technology firms, having been sued repeatedly by patent-holding companies, support the actions.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jared A. Favole and Brent Kendall reported, “The White House on Tuesday announced a set of executive actions by President Barack Obama aimed at reining in certain patent-holding firms, known as ‘patent trolls’ to their detractors, amid concerns that the companies are abusing the patent system and disrupting competition. Mr. Obama’s actions, which include measures he wants Congress to consider, are intended to target firms that have forced technology companies, financial institutions and others into costly litigation to protect their products. These patent-holding firms amass portfolios of patents more to pursue licensing fees than to build new products.”

According to the White House Fact Sheet on the topic, “The White House issued five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations designed to protect innovators from frivolous litigation and ensure the highest-quality patents in our system. Additionally, the National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers released a report, Patent Assertion and U.S. Innovation, detailing the challenges posed and necessity for bold legislative action.”

Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev and Susan Decker observed, “The announcement formalizes changes that have been considered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including making patent owners and applicants identify who benefits financially from the patent and improving application examinations. It also backs some legislation sponsored by members of both parties in Congress.”

Reuters noted, “Cisco Systems Inc, Apple Inc, Google Inc and other big technology companies have been pushing for legislation that would reduce the number of times each year that they are sued for infringement by ‘patent trolls.’ Cisco, among others, has been further aggravated by companies that sue its customers – often stores and coffee shops – alleging infringement of certain patents merely because they provide Wi-Fi services or have a website.”

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