Following President Obama’s plan, announced in his State of the Union speech, to make 2014 a year of action, the White House has issued a press release detailing executive actions to combat patent trolls and strengthen the patent system.
Promoting Transparency: The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently published a draft rule to ensure that patent owners list and update accurate patent ownership information when involved in proceedings before the USPTO. This is designed to make it harder to hide abusive patent litigation tactics by using shell companies. The final rule will be issued after the USPTO receives public comments.
Making Patents Clearer: The USPTO is implementing a training program to help examiners review “functional claims” to assure that they are clear and can be consistently enforced. The USPTO will soon launch a pilot program that uses glossaries in patent specifications to promote clarity.
Protecting “Main Street” from Abusive Patent Litigation: The USPTO is launching an online toolkit to give consumers and small business owners answers to common questions about patent law and specific patents before they enter into litigation or settlements.
Expanding Scholars Program: The USPTO will expand the Edison Scholars Program, under which it brings academic experts to the USPTO to develop and make available data on abusive patent litigation.
Strengthening Enforcement of Expulsion Orders: The Office of the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator has launched an interagency review on transparency, effectiveness, and efficiency in the enforcement of exclusion orders by the International Trade Commission.
Global Development: The Administration has committed to go forward with the Patents for Humanity Program, which creates business incentives for using patented technology to address worldwide humanitarian needs.
Crowdsourcing Prior Art: The USPTO is launching a new initiative to expand ways for companies, experts, and consumers to help patent examiners, holders, and applicants find relevant prior art.
Technical Training: The USPTO is expanding is its Patent Examiner Technical Training Program to help patent examiners keep up with changes in technology. The USPTO is also asking inventors to volunteer their time and expertise to help assure that the USPTO’s training reflects the state of the art.
Pro Bono Assistance: The USPTO will appoint a Pro Bono Coordinator to help inventors who lack legal representation. The Administration is calling on members of the patent bar to volunteer for the program.