Apple, Pfizer, others form 'go slow' U.S. patent lobby group

WASHINGTON Thu Apr 3, 2014 10:03am EDT

A man takes a photo of the U.S. Capitol, on the eve of a potential federal government shutdown, in Washington September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A man takes a photo of the U.S. Capitol, on the eve of a potential federal government shutdown, in Washington September 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major U.S. companies including Ford, Apple and Pfizer have formed a lobbying group aimed at pushing back at some changes to the patent system members of Congress have proposed, saying these measures would hinder protection of valuable inventions.

The group is concerned about pending legislation aimed at fighting so-called patent assertion entities (PAEs), companies which produce nothing but instead buy up patents and then attempt to extract licensing fees or sue for infringement.

Called the Partnership for American Innovation, the group warned that steps to stop the PAEs could also hurt truly innovative companies.

Companies signing on to the effort so far are Apple Inc., DuPont, Ford Motor Co., General Electric, IBM Corp, Microsoft Corp and Pfizer Inc.

"There's a feeling that the negative rhetoric is leading to a very anti-patent environment," said David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 2009 to 2013, who advises the group. He is with the law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore, LLP.

In particular, the group would oppose efforts to make software or biotechnology unpatentable.

Google, Cisco and other supporters of efforts to curb frivolous patent litigation from PAEs, often termed "patent trolls," supported a bill that easily passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December.

That bill encourages judges hearing patent cases to require the losing party to cover the winners' legal bills, a concept known as "loser pays." It also requires companies filing infringement lawsuits to detail which patent is infringed - something that does not regularly happen.

A separate Senate patent bill is scheduled to be marked up soon.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz, editing by Ros Krasny and David Gregorio)

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Comments (8)
tmc wrote:
Patents should not apply to software. You didn’t invent software, you used it to create something. This is the same as an author patenting a book, or a painter patenting paintings. This is what copyrights are for. Software is “code” in the form of text files that should be copyrighted. Not an invention that should be patented. Computing devices or hardware is another matter.

Apr 03, 2014 12:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
tmc wrote:
Patent trolls should be stopped.
Simply state that you cannot sell a patent. You invented it, you patented it. You have the right to license it and collect a fee or fees for it. If you decline to do so then you must produce it. The patent expires when you stop producing or licensing, or after a set time period defined by law, which ever comes first.

Apr 03, 2014 12:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
willich6 wrote:
Shame on Apple, Pfizer, GE, MS and the others for trying to perpetuate an environment of patent ‘terrorism’.. There is no purpose for PAE’s (patent trolls) other than to delay innovation thru lawsuits and threats and extortion – and pump up their own sales with exorbitant prices.

It’s just a way for the ‘Haves’ to keep out the ‘Have Nots’ – new companies bringing fresh and innovative technology to market. The average smartphone contains over 5000 patents; since Apple released one of the 1st smartphones its easy for them to ‘claim’ that everyone else has copied them in an attempt to monopolize the market – getting gullible juries to buy into this line of BS..

Protecting your own legitimate patents is proper; but buying up troves of Palm Pilot, Nextel, Xerox, and other failed tech companies patents in bankruptcy and then using them to extort $B’s from other companies is nothing less than criminal behavior.. Congress should put a Stop to this behavior Now…

Apr 03, 2014 12:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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