Today, the White House released a memo detailing seven legislative actions it wants Congress to take; several of them could have a real impact on patent trolls. The administration is also going to take immediate executive actions, including "empowering downstream users" by having the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) create a website to tell patent troll victims about their rights.
The memo outlines changes to bring much more transparency to patent disputes, including new PTO rules that will require patent owners to keep their ownership information updated. It asks Congress to impose similar transparency rules on courts. If that happens in an effective way, it could stop patent trolls from hiding their owners in the shadows behind networks of shell companies.
The letter's tone sends its own message. It unapologetically uses the tech-colloquial term "patent trolls," noting that they are "increasingly targeting Main Street retailers, consumers, and other end-users of products." The executive actions section promises to "tighten functional claiming," saying that overly broad claims "particularly in the context of software," are a serious problem.
Some highlights from the report include:
Transparency: parties should disclose the "real-party-in-interest" in both lawsuits and patent demand letters. And the demand letters should be public.
Protect end users using "off-the-shelf" products.
Make it easier for defendant companies that win patent suits to get attorneys' fees.