Patent Assertion Entities

President Obama released reports and plans relating to patent litigation in the United States and particularly addressing “Patent Assertion Entities”. The announcement today included among other things, plans to provide new rules as to patent ownership and guidance on ‘functional claiming’ in software patents, as well as recommendations on costs awards in patent cases.

In a press release today, entitled “White House Task Force on High-Tech Patent Issues“, the President announced a number of measures including executive action and legislative recommendations:

Today the White House announced major steps to improve incentives for future innovation in high tech patents, a key driver of economic growth and good paying American jobs.  The White House issued five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations designed to protect innovators from frivolous litigation and ensure the highest-quality patents in our system.  Additionally, the National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers released a report, Patent Assertion and U.S. Innovation, detailing the challenges posed and necessity for bold legislative action.

A couple of the legislative recommendations are requiring patentees and applicants to disclose the real party-in-interest and permit more discretion to prevailing parties in patent cases. Details of the announcement are available on the WhiteHouse website.

There is significant commentary on the announcement is available, including from PatentlyO and the WSJ Law Blog.

[Update: Chief Judge Rader of the CAFC wrote an op-ed in the NY Times on patent assertion entities in which he states: “The onslaught of litigation brought by “patent trolls” — who typically buy up a slew of patents, then sue anyone and everyone who might be using or selling the claimed inventions — has slowed the development of new products, increased costs for businesses and consumers, and clogged our judicial system.”]

[Update: I wrote an article on this subject called “Patent Trolls in Canada?” for Slaw that was published June 21, 2013]