Ken Parker in the American Lawyer: IP Partisans React to Obama Patent Troll Directives


With opposition to "patent trolls" running at an all-time high, the Obama Administration pressed ahead Tuesday with reforms that could help to undermine the troll business model. Many tech companies hailed the proposals as longoverdue, saying they'll let businesses spend less time litigating and more time innovating. But some patent-holders warned that the reforms could hurt the economy in the long run.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the White House said it is ordering the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. International Trade Commission to take steps to "bring about greater transparency to the patent system and level the playing field for innovators." In addition to those executive actions, the president proposed seven legislative fixes, many of which have have already been incorporated into four different bills being shopped around on Capitol Hill...

"Many of these changes won't have a major impact on patent assertion entities," said Kenneth Parker, a patent litigator at Haynes and Boone, LLP. "In particular, loosening the standard for awarding attorneys fees is unlikely to make any difference. Most judges don't like to award fees. They are steeped in the American rule."

According to Parker, instead of ordering new training for patent examiners, Congress should give the PTO more money. He noted that, even before the financial crisis, PTO fees have been siphoned off from the agency to pay for other parts of the federal government. "There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the standards they are using to grant patents," he said. "Some low quality patents slip through the cracks because there is no funding in place."

Excerpted from the American Lawyer, June 5, 2013. To view full article, click here.

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