Trending: Why Amazon is suddenly going on the offensive amid a growing techlash

obamaThe U.S. government is moving forward with its plan to curb the practices of patent holding firms and on Thursday announced three new executive actions for a nationwide patent reform.

One of the actions calls to “crowdsource” the review of patents and find “relevant prior art” to help U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officials figure out whether a patent idea is original or not.

Other new actions include more robust technical training for patent examiners and a program to help inventors who lack legal representation. These are all on top of several other commitments that the government is still working on. You can the entire update from the White House here.

Meanwhile, the Innovation Act, designed to limit the ability of “patent trolls,” was passed by the House in December and is currently being debated in the Senate.

A move to fix the patent system in the U.S. first began back in June, when President Barack Obama first introduced a 5-step plan. During January’s State of the Union, Obama again alluded to the importance of patent reform.

“Let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation,” Obama said.


Patent reform will likely have implications for Intellectual Ventures, the Bellevue-based patent-holding firm owned by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, which has come under scrutiny recently for its practices. The company has acquired more than 70,000 patents during its 13-year history, and has earned more than $3 billion by licensing those patents to other companies.

Intellectual Ventures, which released a searchable list of more than 33,000 of its patents in December, published a blog post this week calling the Innovation Act a “flawed bill.”

“We hope that Senate lawmakers take more care than the House did, which produced a bill packed with provisions on pleading requirements, discovery rules and fee-shifting that would make it much harder for inventors – especially individual inventors and small businesses – to defend against big corporate infringers,” wrote Russ Merbeth, chief policy counsel for Intellectual Ventures.

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