Obama says patent reform needs to go farther

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:52pm EST

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on education for young children in Decatur, Georgia, February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on education for young children in Decatur, Georgia, February 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, in an unusual foray into patent law, on Thursday said U.S. patent reform needs to go farther to address the trend of companies that do not manufacture any products aggressively suing other companies for patent infringement.

High-tech companies in particular have complained to regulators about big patent licensing companies that manufacture nothing but sue long lists of firms, often using weak patents to do so. Many high-tech firms settle to avoid litigation risk but some, like Google, fight back.

The polite term for these firms is "non-practicing entities" but in private they are more rudely called "patent trolls."

After a years-long fight, Congress passed a patent reform in 2011 which did little to address the issue.

"Our efforts at patent reform only went halfway to the point where they need to go," said Obama during an online question and answer session, calling for "smarter patent laws."

Long focused on large corporations because of their deep pockets, these entities have recently turned their attention to start-ups which are not as established but have raised large amounts of money and often have substantial revenue.

"I'm an ardent believer that what's powerful about the Internet is its openness and the capacity for people to get out there and just introduce a new idea with low barriers to entry," Obama said. "We also want to make sure that people's intellectual property is protected."

The increase in patent lawsuits by these companies is so pronounced that they now constitute the majority of U.S. patent lawsuits, according to a study by Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University and a patent expert.

She found that about 61 percent of all patent lawsuits filed through December 1, were brought by patent-assertion entities, or individuals and companies that work aggressively and opportunistically to assert patents as a business model. That compares with 45 percent in 2011 and 23 percent five years ago.

These firms are asserting patents that were either originally awarded to them or that they acquired.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
staff3 wrote:
“We passed some legislation last year, but it hasn’t captured all the problems,” Obama said during the Google+ Hangout, hosted on YouTube, in response to a question about what the government was doing to promote innovation — and protect against what the questioner called “patent trolls.”

This is just dissembling by huge corporations and their paid puppets. The purpose of their bill was only to help large firms steal and destroy their would be small competition. What they now propose will only make matters worse. That’s all that needs to be said about Obama. He’s either hopelessly duped, or just another crooked politician taking a pay off from big corporations.

Just because they call it “reform” doesn’t mean it is.

“patent reform”…America Invents Act, vers 2.0, 3.0…

“This is not a patent reform bill” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) complained, despite other democrats praising the overhaul. “This is a big corporation patent giveaway that tramples on the right of small inventors.”

Senator Cantwell is right. All these bills do is legalize theft. Just because they call it “reform” doesn’t mean it is. The paid puppets of banks, huge multinationals, and China continue to brain wash and bankrupt America.

They should have called these bills the America STOPS Inventing Act or ASIA, because that’s where they’re sending all our jobs.

The patent bill (vers 2, 3, etc) is nothing less than another monumental federal giveaway for banks, huge multinationals, and China and an off shoring job killing nightmare for America. Even the leading patent expert in China has stated the bill will help them steal our inventions. Congress passed it and Obama signed it. Who are they working for??

Patent reform is a fraud on America. Congress and Obama are both to blame. This bill will not do what they claim it will. What it will do is help large multinational corporations maintain their monopolies by robbing and destroying their small entity and startup competitors (so it will do exactly what the large multinationals paid for) and with them the jobs they would have created. The bill will make it harder and more expensive for small firms to get and enforce their patents. Without patents we cant get funded. In this way large firms are able to play king of the hill and keep their small competitors from reaching the top as they have. Yet small entities create the lion’s share of new jobs. According to recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation and economists at the U.S. Census Bureau, “startups aren’t everything when it comes to job growth. They’re the only thing.” This bill is a wholesale destroyer of US jobs. Those wishing to help fight this bill should contact us as below.

Small entities and inventors have been given far too little voice on this bill when one considers that they rely far more heavily on the patent system than do large firms who can control their markets by their size alone. The smaller the firm, the more they rely on patents -especially startups and individual inventors. Congress and Obama tinkering with patent law while gagging inventors is like a surgeon operating before examining the patient.

Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways and set America on a course for sustainable prosperity, not large corporation lobbied poverty, should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html for a different/opposing view on patent reform.

Feb 18, 2013 10:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.