On June 4, 2013, the President of the United States
announced seven legislative recommendations to Congress and
five executive actions designed to protect innovators from
frivolous litigation and to better the quality of patents issued by
the United States
Patent and Trademarks Office. (The informal Executive
Actions differ from Executive Orders in that they are not legally
binding and are seen more as a way to signal a policy shift.)
The Executive Actions announced by the White House are as
Identifying the "Real-Party-In-Interest": the USPTO
will begin a rulemaking process to require regular updates to
ownership information, specifically designating the parent entity
in control of the patent. This is expected to assist defendants in
identifying the full extent of the patent portfolio held by a
plaintiff, as such information is quite helpful in negotiating
Additional USPTO training on Functional Claims: the USPTO will
provide targeted training to examiners and develop strategies to
address overly broad claims, especially in the context of software
Empowering "Downstream Users": the USPTO will develop
new education and outreach materials to aid those end-users using
patented technology who face demands from a possible patent troll
for simply using a product as intended.
Expanded Outreach and Study: the White House has acknowledged
that engagement with stakeholders (including patent holders,
research institutions, consumer advocates, public interest groups
and the general public) is very important in ensuring that
necessary reforms are identified to ensure that the U.S. patent
system is efficient and reliable. The USPTO Edison Scholars
Program, which permits academic experts to conduct research on the
issues involved in abusive patent litigation, will be
Exclusion Orders: the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement
Coordinator will launch a review of existing procedures that U.S.
Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. International Trade
Commission use to evaluate the scope of exclusion orders (orders
which prevent the importing of products that infringe patent
claims) and work to ensure that the process for enforcement of
those orders is transparent, efficient, and effective.
The Legislative Recommendations ask Congress to pursue the
following measures (some of which echo the priorities set out
above) to protect innovators from frivolous litigation.
Require patentees and applicants to disclose the
"Real-Party-In-Interest" by requiring the filing of
updated ownership information with the USPTO or district court when
sending demand letters, among other acts.
Permit more discretion in awarding "costs" to
prevailing parties in patent cases.
Expand the USPTO's "covered business method
patent" transitional program to more types of computer-enabled
patents, and permit a wider range of challengers to petition for
review of issued patents. The program provides faster and cheaper
review of covered patents as an alternative to
Protect consumers by providing them with better legal
protection against liability if they are using a patented product
"off-the-shelf" and solely for its intended use, and
allowing a stay of judicial proceedings against consumers if there
is a lawsuit against the vendor, retailer, or manufacturer of a
Change the standard applied by the International Trade
Commission for obtaining injunctive relief in order to enhance
consistency in the standards applied by the ITC and district
Initiating steps to incentivize public filing of demand letters
so that the public may search them.
Ensure the International Trade Commission has the flexibility
required to hire judges with a background in administrative
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A recent Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench decision allowed a court-appointed receiver to sell and transfer intellectual property rights free and clear of encumbrances, finding that a license to use improvements of an invention was a contractual interest and not a property interest.
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