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The Obama administration will reportedly announce a set of executive actions on Tuesday aimed at reigning in patent trolls amid concerns they are abusing the current system and squelching competition.
President Obama will instruct the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to initiate a rule-making process that would require patent holders to disclose the owner of a patent, senior Obama administration officials told The Wall Street Journal. He will reportedly announce five executive actions and seven proposed legislative changes, including asking Congress for legislation that would sanction litigants who file lawsuits deemed abusive by the courts. U.S.: Obama To Reign In Patent Trolls [news.cnet.com]
In that spirit, the Administration recommends that Congress pursue at least seven legislative measures that would have immediate effect on some major problems innovators face. These measures would:
1 Require patentees and applicants to disclose the “Real Party-in-Interest,” by requiring that any party sending demand letters, filing an infringement suit or seeking PTO review of a patent to file updated ownership information, and enabling the PTO or district courts to impose sanctions for non-compliance.
2 Permit more discretion in awarding fees to prevailing parties in patent cases, providing district courts with more discretion to award attorney’s fees under 35 USC 285 as a sanction for abusive court filings (similar to the legal standard that applies in copyright infringement cases).
3 Expand the PTO’s transitional program for covered business method patents to include a broader category of computer-enabled patents and permit a wider range of challengers to petition for review of issued patents before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB).
4 Protect off-the-shelf use by consumers and businesses by providing them with better legal protection against liability for a product being used off-the-shelf and solely for its intended use. Also, stay judicial proceedings against such consumers when an infringement suit has also been brought against a vendor, retailer, or manufacturer.
5 Change the ITC standard for obtaining an injunction to better align it with the traditional four-factor test in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, to enhance consistency in the standards applied at the ITC and district courts.
6 Use demand letter transparency to help curb abusive suits, incentivizing public filing of demand letters in a way that makes them accessible and searchable to the public.
7 Ensure the ITC has adequate flexibility in hiring qualified Administrative Law Judges.
White House Task Force on High-Tech Patent Issues [whitehouse.gov]