Patent trolls in Obama's sights
A report in the Wall Street Journal cites senior White House officials saying the US President will announce a series of five executive actions and propose seven legislation changes in an attempt to curb Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) or as they are more commonly known, patent trolls. The executive actions include a direction to the US Patent Office to change the rules so that patent owners are disclosed and not hidden behind shell companies and to train examiners to spot overly broad patent claims.
The president is said to also be planning to ask Congress to bring in new legislation that could see litigants face sanction for abusive lawsuits. He is also expected to move to reduce the use of the International Trade Commission (ITC) for patent disputes, where companies have looked to get early and rapid importation bans on products. The administration will look to Congress to change the way the ITC works and will order a review of procedures at the ITC.
The proposals are designed to work alongside the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department's investigations into whether patent-holders may be distorting the competitive markets of some sectors, especially in technology. The Obama administration has previously brought legislation into force such as the 2011 Leahy-Smith America Invents Act which introduced a "first-to-file" patent system, but Obama has said that those reforms "did not capture all the issues".