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2/21/2014
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White House Targets Patent Trolls

Obama administration reports progress, announces three new executive actions, to promote patent reform.

Most Wasteful Government IT Projects Of 2013
Most Wasteful Government IT Projects Of 2013
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The White House has announced three new executive actions to strengthen the US patent system and combat patent assertion entities (PAEs), more commonly known as patent trolls.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, National Economic Council director Gene Sperling, federal CTO Todd Park, and USPTO deputy director Michelle Lee took the stage at the White House on Thursday to discuss the progress the administration has made on five executive actions introduced in June 2013.

In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama stressed the importance of passing legislation to fight patent trolling and limit abusive litigation, where companies seek royalties from unsuspecting product users, or challenge the legitimacy of patents to avoid paying royalties. Patent assertion entities are a drain on the economy, according to a White House report, and hurt companies, the president said.

Echoing the president's sentiments, Park said at Thursday's event, "We care deeply about innovation. Patent trolls hinder rather than help innovation. We have been listening and will continue to take executive action to combat patent trolls."

[The new executive actions are the latest efforts in The White House's War on Patent Trolls.]

The first executive action announced Thursday involves the creation of Crowdsourcing Prior Art, an initiative where companies, experts, and the general public assist patent examiners, holders, and applicants in finding prior art, or technical information that could determine whether an invention is truly original. "This will help our parent examiners determine whether an invention is worthy of a patent," said Pritzker.

Image courtesy of Flickr - Libby Levi for OpenSource.com
Image courtesy of Flickr - Libby Levi for OpenSource.com

The second action focuses on increasing accessibility of the patent system. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) said it will offer resources to inventors without legal representation. As part of that effort, USPTO will appoint a full-time pro bono coordinator and expand the existing America Invents Act pro bono program to all 50 states.

Third, USPTO will provide patent examiners with more technical training to help them keep up with fast-changing technology fields. USPTO said it wants to make it easier for technologists and engineers to make their expertise available to examiners.

Lee said the administration has made significant progress on the five actions introduced by the president last June. To promote transparency, USPTO recently published a draft rule to ensure that patent owners accurately record and update ownership information involved in proceedings.

USPTO also introduced a training program for examiners looking at claims, and is in the process of launching a pilot program that uses glossaries to promote patent clarity. Delivering on another promise, USPTO has created an online toolkit that answers common patent questions and offers access to other resources.

"We want 2014 to be the year when the president signs patent legislation," said Sperling. "This is an area where there's hope for bipartisan action."

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Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she ... View Full Bio

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AryehF891
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AryehF891,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2014 | 4:05:02 PM
Re: There is no protect for little guys
Perhaps it is not playing the victim per se but starting with one hand tied behind our backs.   Perhaps there should be a weaker level of protection such as I have done enough to prove that the orignial idea is mine and that I created it on some date (the same basic requirements as copyrigts) and then use a document escrow service (there are several if you can spare a machine dedicated to them... something only realistic with wide spread private cloud computing) yo keep it confidential
WKash
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100%
WKash,
User Rank: Author
2/21/2014 | 2:26:10 PM
Re: There is no protect for little guys
No question, it's not easy for the little guys. But innovation doesn't start with playing the victim. I encourage you -- and every underdog -- to go and read Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, "David and Goliath" and what it says about underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants! 

 
WKash
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100%
WKash,
User Rank: Author
2/21/2014 | 2:19:48 PM
Re: Crowdsourcking patents is a horrible idea
I'm with somedude8.  The idea is that patent examiners can't know all there is to know to prove the uniqueness of a design.  Crowdsourcing isn't the only answer.  More training and better tools are needed to. But it is essentially free, taps into a greater body of observers, and hopefully makes sense to fold into the process with today's technology.
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Moderator
2/21/2014 | 1:36:22 PM
There is no protect for little guys
Serously!?

More protection for big guys. If I patented my invention and I don't have money, then someone can still my patent and there is nothing I can do about it because I'm not practicing my patent.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2014 | 12:18:23 PM
Re: Crowdsourcking patents is a horrible idea
It sounded to me like the crowdsourcing part was only for researching prior art. Lets someone tried to patent something like, oh I don't know, 90 degree corners on electronic devices. Certainly someone in the crowdsourcing pool would say "Hey! My grandparents TV in the 50s had 90 degree corners, and here is a picture of it!". Then perhaps 90 degree corners would not get patented.

I can see this being a massive aid to the patent system, and also introducing a whole new dynamic. Apple tries to patent something, Samsung spends millions researching prior art, and maybe finds something, maybe doesn't. Still, a whole new angle to this thing.

Sounds good to me!
AryehF891
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0%
AryehF891,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2014 | 11:26:43 AM
Crowdsourcking patents is a horrible idea
Frankly crowdsourcing patent resource sounds like one of the dubmest ideas ever (this is from someone who has been "screwed" by the current system).     The bottom line why should I offer for *FREE* my ideas so someone else can *STEAL* them.   Yes I know someone will make the arguements that it is not really stealing because any such theif would find it impossible to sell the idea (it is aleady publicly known).

 

The only real solution is have a full proof escrow system that stamps it with proof of creation timestamp and then controls access to it.   The exact details are the subject of a patent application it self.   So sorry no details.   

 

The problems above force many small developers like my self to focus our works on things that do not require patents like my work on http://www.petitecloud.org ... our business model will helpfully enable us to pay for the legal fees to fle most of this ... 
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