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Obama: Just call me Billygoat Gruff the Third, patent trolls

President prepares to lock horns with bridge-dwelling legal rabble

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US President Barack Obama is planning to announce a series of executive actions against patent trolls today to stop them from abusing the patent system.

Obama has often made his position known on trolls, companies which acquire patents not for the purpose of making products but instead in order to sue someone else who is already doing so. In February, the President said that patent trolls don’t “produce anything themselves” and are “trying to leverage and hijack someone else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them”. He said at the time that new legislation was needed to sort out the patent system.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice are already looking into whether patent trolling is affecting competition in the technology market, as the patent wars between big firms like Apple, Samsung and Googorola embroil more and more combatants.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the president will say today that he wants the Patent and Trademark Office to start forcing patent holders to disclose the owner of the patent so that businesses suing for infringement can’t hide the actual owner behind shell firms, so stopping firms that are being sued from figuring out who’s suing them. He is also going to get the PTO to train examiners to look deeper into applications that cover overly broad intellectual property claims.

Obama will ask Congress to consider passing new laws that would allow sanctions against any firms which file lawsuits deemed abusive by the courts and to stop companies from using the International Trade Commission to contest infringement claims so frequently.

The ITC is a popular venue for the ever-growing number of patent spats because it’s faster than chasing the case through the courts. But Obama wants a review of the existing procedures at the ITC and he wants Congress to change some of the commission’s legal standards as well as making sure it can be flexible when hiring its judges. ®

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