Patent trolls have one more thing to worry about today as President Obama focuses his attention on curtailing their questionable legal activities with a new plan that includes five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations.
The legislative actions (which would have to be taken up by lawmakers) include requiring patentees and applicants to disclose "Real Party-in-Interest"; permit more discretion in awarding fees to prevailing parties in patent cases; expand the PTO’s transitional program for covered business method patents to include a broader category of computer-enabled patents; protect off-the-shelf use by consumers and businesses by providing them with better legal protection against liability for a product being used off-the-shelf and solely for its intended use; change the ITC standard for obtaining an injunction; use demand letter transparency to help curb abusive suits; and give the ITC adequate flexibility in hiring qualified Administrative Law Judges.
The five executive orders would give "Real Party-in-Interest” the new default; tighten "functional claiming"; empowering downstream users by making it hard for them to be sued by patent rights holders; make available to the public more robust data and research on the issues bearing on abusive litigation; and strengthening the enforcement process of exclusion orders at the ITC.
Julie P. Samuels, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that some of these measures don’t go far enough, but it's a good start.
“We think each of these proposals is important, and each would make life harder for patent trolls and help get patents out of the way of innovation,” she wrote in a blog post this morning.
One thing the EFF would like to see is more of a discussion on dealing with overly broad software patents.