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20 June 2012, 16:46

EFF announces "Defend Innovation" patent reform project

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EFF logo The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced the launch of a new patent reform project called "Defend Innovation". According to the digital rights advocacy organisation, the aim of the project is to promote various suggested "fixes" for the American patent system and bring them before legislators.

"The software patent system is broken," said EFF Staff Attorney Julie Samuels, adding that, "Patents are supposed to help promote new inventions and ideas, but software patents are chronically misused to limit competition, quash new tools and products, and shake down companies big and small." As part of the Defend Innovation project, the non-profit group has published a list of seven proposals with the objective of protecting inventors and improving the patent system.

These include shortening the term for software patents from 20 years to no more than 5 years, providing examples of running code with software patent applications, and forcing the loser in some patent cases to pay the legal fees in order to try to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Relaxed liability for patent infringers who can demonstrate that they arrived at the invention independently, improvements to the notification function where patent holders must keep their disclosures up to date, and changes to how damages are calculated are among the EFF's other suggested fixes.

Defend Innovation logo The final proposal questions whether software patents are even necessary. In it, the EFF says that a study should be commissioned by the US government and a hearing should be held "to examine whether software patents actually benefit our economy at all".

Further information about the EFF's new patent reform project and details of each of the proposals can be found on the official Defend Innovation web site. On the site, users can also add their signatures and comments to a white paper that will be taken to the US Congress.

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