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Obama Targets Patent Trolls with Proposed Legislative Changes

obamaPresident Obama has today announced a set of executive actions directed at cracking down on patent-holding firms that interfere with competition and abuse the patent system, reports The Wall Street Journal. Many technology companies, such as Apple, have dealt with multiple lawsuits from so-called "patent trolls," which aim to make money through licensing fees.
Mr. Obama's actions, which include measures he wants Congress to consider, are intended to target firms that have forced technology companies, financial institutions and others into costly litigation to protect their products. These patent-holding firms amass portfolios of patents more to pursue licensing fees than to build new products.

The firms say they are doing nothing wrong, just using patents that were legally granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They say they promote a fair market by protecting smaller inventors.
Obama has constructed a five-step plan with a total of seven legislative changes, which will be released as part of a White House report on patent trolls. The plan includes a recommendation that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office create rules that require patent owners to be identified and a request for Congress to pass legislation that puts sanctions on questionable lawsuits filed by patent-holding firms.

Additionally, Obama hopes to cut down on the International Trade Commission's involvement in patent disputes. Claims filed with the ITC are often resolved more quickly than standard federal lawsuits.
The Obama administration would like Congress to change certain ITC legal standards and ensure that the agency has flexibility in hiring its judges. The president will order a review of existing procedures at the ITC, officials said.
Reliance on the ITC has not been limited to patent trolls, as a number technology companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google have increasingly used the International Trade Commission to settle a number of patent disputes.

According to President Obama, patent-holding firms are a drain on progress. The firms, he says, "don't actually produce anything themselves. They’re just trying to essentially leverage and hijack someone else’s idea to see if they can extort some money out of them."

Over the years, Apple has faced litigation from a number of patent-holding companies like Lodsys, which has targeted app developers over in-app purchases, and VirnetX, a company that was awarded $368.2 million over VPN connectivity in Facebook in 2012.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the comment thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All MacRumors forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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17 months ago
But what will MR post about? This eliminates about 65% of front page posts! ;)
Rating: 38 Votes
17 months ago
Thank you, Mr. President!
Rating: 33 Votes
17 months ago
This may be the first thing Obama has done well in office.
Rating: 21 Votes
17 months ago
It'd be great if this was really thorough legislation that really worked...but...well, knowing the US Government...
Rating: 15 Votes
17 months ago
He can propose whatever he wants, it has to pass Congress, which should only happen by the time Haley's comet comes around.
Rating: 14 Votes
17 months ago
This is good news. The patent system in the U.S. is broken and needs to be fixed.
Rating: 13 Votes
17 months ago

Hah, it's so funny how a president gets in a scandal or two and then suddenly his smiling face starts appearing on every web site in the world with him suddenly making various announcements about this that and other -- anything to create news that is different from the scandal news :)

I don't mean that in negative way. although I do suppose it is a bit sad...

Scandals? What scandals? Check President Obama's job approval polls. Hasn't dropped an inch. They're only scandals in the fevered minds of Republicans. The rest of us see through all of the bloviating coming from the right.
Rating: 13 Votes
17 months ago
Hah, it's so funny how a president gets in a scandal or two and then suddenly his smiling face starts appearing on every web site in the world with him suddenly making various announcements about this that and other -- anything to create news that is different from the scandal news :)

I don't mean that in negative way. although I do suppose it is a bit sad...
Rating: 12 Votes
17 months ago

What, specifically, is broken about the patent system?


That it's profitable for a group of investors to buy up vague, poorly written patents from holders/companies that no longer use them/care about them and then sue everyone who is even close to violating them in the hopes that they pay up rather then fight.

If you think these patent holding companies are benefiting the original holder then you are mistaken. They often are bought for next to nothing.

As others have mentioned - patents are to protect not to be bought by shell companies to punish others.

It's not just the holding companies to blame - Apple, Google and just about every technology giant are just as guilty too. They buy patents to keep others from using them. Similiar to what AT&T/Verizon do with wireless spectrum.
Rating: 8 Votes
17 months ago


Watch very carefully.


Man that tinfoil hat must be tight. Loosen it up a bit.

He can propose legislation, doesn't mean squat. It has to pass the legislative branch for it to ever be implemented. It's how the executive branch has always influenced policy making.

If this even passes the legislative branch which in of itself is just a comical s---fest, it would bring some progress to the table, though I doubt it will. Too many of these trolls have lobbying groups to extreme extents with deep pockets. No way they'd let this slide quietly.
Rating: 7 Votes

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