Obama Plans to Take Action Against Patent-Holding Firms
The White House on Tuesday plans to announce a set of executive actions President Barack Obama will take that are aimed at reining in certain patent-holding firms, known as “patent trolls” to their detractors, amid concerns that the firms are abusing the patent system and disrupting competition.
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.
To help deter questionable lawsuits, the Obama administration plans to, among other things, direct the Patent and Trademark Office to start a rule-making process aimed at requiring patent holders to disclose the owner of a patent, according to senior Obama administration officials. Businesses sometimes are sued by shell companies and don’t always know who actually owns the patent they are being accused of infringing, and whether the firm holds other relevant patents.
In addition, the president plans to ask Congress to pass legislation that would allow sanctions on litigants who file lawsuits deemed abusive by courts, officials said.