The White House is renewing its June 2013 promise to protect against patent trolls with newly announced executive actions.
“It’s clear that the abuse of the patent system is stifling innovation and putting a drag on our economy. The trolling has gotten out of control, and it’s time to act,” Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, wrote in a June White House blog post.
Patent trolls are businesses that hold patents and never do anything inventive with them. The latest executive actions are intended to assist small businesses that are struggling with patent lawsuits.
(Related: Google’s patent war with Oracle)
The first executive action creates an initiative from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), called Crowdsourcing Prior Art. “Focused on expanding ways for companies, experts and the general public to help patent examiners, holders and applicants find relevant ‘prior art’—that is, the technical information patent examiners need to make a determination of whether an invention is truly novel,” according to a White House statement.
The USPTO is also expanding its technical training to help patent examiners keep up with the evolution of technology. The Obama administration is asking those who’ve invented technologies to volunteer their time and knowledge in order to guarantee the USPTO’s robust training.
Lastly, the White House is focusing on increasing the accessibility of the patent system. In order to help inventors who lack legal representation, the USPTO will provide them with education and practical resources, and will appoint a Pro Bono Coordinator and expand the current America Invents Act pro bono program to include all 50 states.
“The Obama administration is making major progress on a series of initiatives designed to combat patent trolls, further strengthen our patent system and foster innovation,” according to the White House’s website.
The White House also launched a website to help businesses and consumers who have been sued or received a demand letter to understand their rights and answer common questions.