White House Takes Steps to Combat Patent Trolls

The Obama Administration today took major action to deal with the growing problem of patent trolls, which it called a “drain on the American economy.” It described the five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations it issued as “designed to protect innovators from frivolous litigation and ensure the highest-quality patents in our system.” The recommendations to Congress include requiring patent owners and applicants to disclose all parties with an interest in the patent, permitting courts to award attorney’s fees to winners in patent cases, allowing more post-patent review, and to provide consumers and business with additional protections against being sued for infringement.

The executive orders the administration released include requiring patent owners to disclose all parties with a stake in the patent when they are involved in proceedings before the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), directing the PTO to develop new education and outreach materials, and strengthening the enforcement process of orders barring importation of goods infringing on patents.   

These actions come as events are heating up in Congress. A number of bills have been introduced recently to deal with the issue of patent trolls. Some of these bills incorporate the recommendations released by the White House today. With the administration now putting out its own “wish list,” it looks like there may be further pressure for Congress to deal with this issue in the coming months.   

The advertising industry is increasingly confronting issues with patent trolls as well. ANA has formed a task force with the 4A’s that is looking into advertiser/agency issues regarding who pays when patent infringement is alleged.  We have also joined a DC-based coalition that is looking into the legislative proposals. 

If you have any questions, please contact Dan Jaffe in ANA's Washington office at 202.296.2359 or at djaffe@ana.net.