Time to fight the good fight folks. It is no argument that patent reform has been long overdue for reform. Last year in July, the White House announced an initiative to take on legislative patent trolls. But like with anything the government does, we are just seeing movement on this promise now. The reforms promised last year were modest by EFF standards, but good no doubt for those seeking change in an already defunct system.
Of those promises last year was a number of executive actions. Functional Claiming for patent applicants would tighten, limiting those inventions to a specific way to completing a task. Transparency would be increased, forcing patent owners to update patent records at the Patent Office with real, actual owners. Limiting abuse to “end users” would be of high priority as well, with increased limits on who can be prosecuted for “intended use” of a given product.Outreach studies would also be created, allowing the government to work with members of the community to address serious flaws in the patent system itself. Lastly, imported goods would undergo strong enforcement of exclusion orders, clamping down on products that infringe U.S. local items. In addition legislative proposals were added to further help reform.
Not only is the White House making good on last year’s promises, it also plans to make progress with the Innovation Act, which outlines tools available for defendants to fight back and reclaim lost fees, a much needed improvement to the laundry list of patent system issues. The innovation act also would aim to prohibit “trolls” from hiding behind mysterious “shell companies,” and other “owners” of bunk patents.
Of all these announcements, the “Been Sued or Gotten a Demand Letter” how-to portal page is the most beneficial to those being attacked by would-be evil trolls. The landing page should be an invaluable resource to those that, in the past, hadn’t the slightest of clues how to help themselves or their friends. Think of the page a a “What do I do know” action site, to better help folks figure out what is happening them, and what they can do to resolve their dire situation.
One of the biggest issues I found lacking in the system is being addressed as well: broad and absurdly vague patents. This should shift the far stretching claims of what a patent does to what a patent actually is. Vague terms and topics will be of high scrutiny as well, with a potential glossary of terms to be implemented to improve consistency in verbiage.
The announcements herein layout some significant progress on the horizon for patent reform. But as with anything, tangible results must be seen as a result. Promising on something and actually delivering are two entirely different things. Significant opposition from heavy handed parties will be in play for sure, attempting to stamp out progress such as this. You can support the Innovation Act by heading over to the EFF’s landing page.
In the end, we must fight to protect the future of technology, both for ourselves, and our future children.