President Obama going after patent trolls today with executive actions, according to report

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Today, President Obama is looking to take executive action against patent trolls, announcing a series of legal moves to rein in some of the patent system’s current abuses, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s reported that the President will instruct the Patent and Trademark office to start work on a rule-making process that would require the disclosure of a patent’s owner in addition to its inventor. This move is said to be designed to give people more information in the case that they’re charged with patent infringement, like whether the company that’s suing them owns other related patents. The WSJ is citing unnamed officials, saying that Obama will announce five executive actions and seven proposed legislative changes, including one that would allow litigants to be sanctioned for filing abusive lawsuits.

One of the changes is reportedly aimed at lessening the role of the International Trade Commission in settling patent disputes. Companies like Apple, Motorola, and others have been increasingly turned to the regulatory body to seek import bans on products from their competitors.

Here, the term “patent troll” refers to a company that acquires patents, not to build products but simply to rack up licensing fees through the threat of litigation, a practice that has drawn the ire of many, including the President.

[via WSJ]

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6 comments

  1. AFPhy6

    [@Ashraf] [@naveed] [@RealBull]

    I agree with all of you. The patent situation right now is totally ridiculous. Though primary inventors need protection, if the patent only serves to deter progress, that counters the whole concept of patents to begin with: encouragement of technological progress through giving the incentive of profit.

    A patent of rounded squares is clearly ridiculous, as is any “look and feel” patent. It is like an artist patenting his brushstroke that was made with a crushed toothpick. Foolish and counter-productive.

    Patent trolls need to be crushed, and anyone sitting on a patent to deter progress for whatever reason should have that patent expire or be withdrawn. However, an inventor deserves the fruits of his genius and so deserves some protection.

  2. Tom

    Just what we need… more bullying by the Master Troll who uses “executive orders” to circumvent the process for law enactment by the people. Complete bureaucratic nonsense!

  3. RealBull

    I think they should get rid of nonsense patents like “curved edges” on a cell phone. That is just ridiculous! It is like me patenting a square shape.
    People should be given a patent that they have actually created, NOT for just claiming something that is already made.
    I think patents are good for protecting an inventor’s rights, but too many of them really degrade free-market and create monopolies.

  4. naveed

    [@Ashraf] You do have a point Ashraf. Keep in mind though, when time is ripe for an idea, the idea will come to multiple people at the same time. Often, it’s the business savvy person who’s first in line to patent it, even though they didn’t come up with the idea first. History has plenty of examples and it’s been going on for at least a hundred years. Thomas Edison was notorious for this.

    If you’ve invented something and are not going to do anything with it, why should the world miss out. It is almost impossible that no one else would not come up with the same idea. Perhaps the “inventor” or should I say “patenter” should be given some sort of reasonable compensation, no where close to the ridiculous sums that are demanded by patent trolls.

  5. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@naveed] I disagree. How is it fair that an inventor of a tech gets all his or her work snatched away just because he or she doesnt make a marketable product.

    I think your idea is fine with a tweak: it should apply to people/companies that buy patents, not inventors who own patents.

  6. naveed

    Give them two years from patient approval to have a working product on the market – that someone can actually buy/lease/use. If they don’t, expire the patent. The exact timing can be worked out and there probably should be a grace/appeal period, but if you’re not going to use a patent, let someone else, you can’t squat on it.