Feeds

Google: Kill all the patent trolls

US patent system 'in crisis'

New hybrid storage solutions

Google's head of patents believes the U.S. patent system is "in crisis". Discussing patent reform at the annual Stanford Summit in Northern California, associate general counsel Michelle Lee told conference attendees that the American system is "out-of-balance [and] needs to be remedied".

"The Patent Office is overburdened," she said. "The volume of patents going in is huge. And the quality of patents coming out - it could be better."

There are too many businesses, she added, who do little more than use patents as a means of making money. Such businesses, often referred to as trolls in patent law, have proved to be a serious minefield for tech companies over the last few years. Lee highlighted the tribulations of Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry handheld, which settled a patent lawsuit for $612m last May.

Speaking alongside Lee, Apple's chief patent counsel, Chip Lutton, wouldn't go quite so far as his Google counterpart. He said the US patent system was "not broken" and that it was "not in crisis," calling it "the best in the world". But he acknowledged that there was a "huge bubble" of patent assertions that needs to be scaled back. "The question with this bubble market, as with any bubble market, is 'Can we solve it without a crisis arising?'" he said.

Lutton believes that the key to fixing the country's patent problems lies with the courts, not the patent office. "Most patents issued are never litigated and never licensed," he said. "We need to focus on fixing the litigation system. That's most relevant."

Lutton's attitude was mirrored by that of fellow speaker David Kappos, vice president and assistant general counsel for intellectual property law at IBM, the company that has led the country in patent filling for the last 14 years.

Perhaps Google is still learning how to play the patent game as well as seasoned veterans like Apple and IBM. When asked if the company's own struggles with the patent system where mostly the result of an increase in the number software patents issued or the rise in Google's popularity, Lee picked popularity. "When you become successful," she said, "all of a sudden everyone wants a piece of it." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC
And ISPs should nab 'em on our behalf
Former Bitcoin Foundation chair pleads guilty to money-laundering charge
Charlie Shrem plea deal could still get him five YEARS in chokey
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.