Today the White House Task Force on High-Tech Patent Issues issued a statement with a clear message: it’s time to tackle patent reform. While Washington as a whole has been slow to embrace new proposals after the passage of The America Invents Act in 2011, a steady drumbeat from advocates, startups, and tech companies alike has pushed policy makers to do more to end the economic drag caused by frivolous patent litigation. The Obama administration announced seven legislative recommendations and five executive actions that are a material step toward fixing the broken patent regime.
The executive actions make clarity a top priority. The requirements include ordering the patent office to work on rules that will make the real owner of a patent more apparent, requiring the office to tighten patent examiners’ scrutiny around what a given patent claims to do, and compelling the office to provide clear, plain-English answers for consumers and businesses about demand letters from patent trolls.
The administration's legislative recommendations also meet key startup needs. The White House is calling on Congress to empower and protect individuals and businesses facing legal demands from patent trolls. This includes proposals to further increase patent owner transparency, shift incentives to discourage predatory litigation, expand the patent reviews from the America Invents Act, end-user protections from patent troll suits, and increase incentives to encourage public disclosure of demand letters from trolls.
We are excited that the White House is taking action in the patent debate. While Washington has been divided along partisan lines of late, members of both parties are unifying to right some of the apparent wrongs in the system. Today’s announcement should encourage further dialogue about what the right fixes are, and how Congress can most effectively protect startups and ultimately all businesses from unwarranted lawsuits.
You can read White House fact sheet here. We will continue to post updates on patent reform proposals from Washington.
Picture courtesy of Alan Kotok.