President Calls to "Strengthen Our Patent System and Foster Innovation"

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From the White House Press Office:

"The White House Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 20, 2014

FACT SHEET - Executive Actions: Answering the President’s Call to Strengthen Our Patent System and Foster Innovation

Year of Action: Making Progress Through Executive Action

In his State of the Union address, President Obama set an ambitious agenda to make 2014 a year of action. As part of that commitment, and recognizing that innovation is the lifeblood of our economy, the Administration today is announcing major progress on a series of initiatives designed to combat patent trolls and further strengthen our patent system and foster innovation; issuing new executive actions to build on these efforts; and renewing its call on Congress to finish the job by passing common-sense patent reform legislation.

Since last June, when the White House pledged to protect innovators from frivolous litigation, the Administration has been working to implement a series of executive actions to improve the U.S. patent system. Today the White House is announcing delivery on these commitments:

Promoting Transparency — The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently published a draft rule to ensure patent owners accurately record and regularly update ownership information when they are involved in proceedings before the USPTO. This effort is aimed at improving the quality of patents issued, enhancing competition, facilitating technology transfer, and making it harder to hide abusive litigation tactics behind shell companies. After receiving input from the public, the USPTO aims to issue a final rule in the coming months.

Making Patents Clear — The USPTO has developed and implemented a training program to help its examiners rigorously examine so-called “functional claims” to ensure claims are clear and can be consistently enforced. In the coming weeks, the USPTO will launch a pilot program that uses glossaries in patent specifications to promote patent clarity.

Protecting Main Street from Abuse — To help ensure consumers and main-street retailers know their rights before entering into costly litigation or settlements, the USPTO is today launching an online toolkit aimed at empowering consumers with answers to common questions, information about patent suits, and details about specific patents. The toolkit will include information and links to services and websites that can help consumers understand the risks and benefits of litigation or settlement, and pick their best course of action.

Expanding Outreach & Focused Study — Today, the USPTO is announcing the expansion of its Edison Scholars Program, which brings distinguished academic experts to the USPTO to develop and make available to the public more robust data and research on issues bearing on abusive litigation. USPTO will also continue to expand its engagement with stakeholders—including patent holders, researchers, advocates, and others—and build on the successful roundtables the agency hosted across the country over the past year on high-tech patent issues.

Strengthening Exclusion Order Enforcement — To make the enforcement of exclusion orders issued by the International Trade Commission more transparent, effective, and efficient, the Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator launched an interagency review and will, in the coming months, deliver its recommendations on refining that process. Innovation For Global Development — In addition, today, the Administration is committing to sustain, going forward, the Patents for Humanity Program, which creates business incentives for using patented technology to address global humanitarian needs.

Today, the White House is also announcing three new executive actions to encourage innovation and further strengthen the quality and accessibility of the patent system:

Crowdsourcing Prior Art — To help ensure that U.S. patents are of the highest quality, the USPTO is announcing a new initiative focused on expanding ways for companies, experts, and the general public to help patent examiners, holders, and applicants find relevant “prior art”—that is, the technical information patent examiners need to make a determination of whether an invention is truly novel.

More Robust Technical Training — The USPTO is expanding its Patent Examiner Technical Training Program to help patent examiners keep up with fast-changing technological fields by making it easier for technologists, engineers, and other experts to provide relevant technical training and guidance to patent examiners. To make the most of these changes, the Administration is calling on innovators to volunteer their time and expertise to help ensure that USPTO training is robust and reflects the state of the art.

Pro Bono and Pro Se Assistance — To increase the accessibility of the patent system, the USPTO will dedicate educational and practical resources to assist inventors who lack legal representation, appoint a full-time Pro Bono Coordinator, and help expand the existing America Invents Act pro bono program to cover all 50 states. The Administration is calling on members of the patent bar to participate in the program.

Renewing the Call for Meaningful Legislation to Combat Patent Trolls: In his State of the Union address President Obama renewed his call for Congress to pass patent reform legislation, which enjoys strong bipartisan support. The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to deliver focused and effective patent reform legislation to the American people in the coming months."


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