As part of its initiative to make a difference through executive action (as opposed to going through Congress), the White House announced last week that it would implement several initiatives “designed to combat patent trolls and further strengthen our patent system and foster innovation. These include (1) “promoting transparency” in the Patent and Trademark office by requiring updated ownership information, (2) making patents “clear” by rigorously examining functional claims to make sure they “are clear and can be consistently enforced,” (3) launching a “toolkit” for “consumers and main street retailers” to provide information for dealing with patent demands; (4) encouraging scholarship of bearing on “abusive litigation,” (5) strengthening exclusion order enforcement in the International Trade Commission, and (6) creating business incentives to use technology for humanitarian purposes.
The White House also announced the launch of an initiatives to make it easier for patent applicants, examiners and the general public to find prior art, to provide better training to patent examiners, and appoint a pro bono coordinator to assist inventors who lack representation.
The White House also called for patent reform legislation. As readers may recall, last year the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 3309 (the so-called “Innovation Act”), which the Senate is now considering. The Innovation Act included a number of aggressive measures to discourage frivolous litigation. Given that passing the Innovation Act would be considered an important “win” for the President, it now seems that the Democratically-controlled Senate will ultimately pass the Innovation Act, or something similar.