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.