Obama continues to push for patent reform

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 15, 2014

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - President Barack Obama says he is focused on moving forward with legislation aimed at combating so-called “patent trolls.”

Obama made the remarks last week during a town hall meeting on innovation in Los Angeles.

“I think the basic concept is that you want to have sufficient IP (intellectual property), and -- whether patents or copyrights -- that you are continually encouraging and rewarding innovation and creativity,” he said Thursday.

“But you don't want those structures so tight, in terms of protecting that intellectual property, that that ends up being actually an inhibitor to people getting good information, folks coming up with new uses for existing information.”

Earlier this year, in his State of the Union address, Obama called on federal lawmakers to pass patent reform legislation.

The President said during his January address that doing so would help bolster the nation’s economy.

In December, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s Innovation Act.

But efforts to pass the patent reform came to a halt in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Patrick Leahy removed his bill, the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act, from the judiciary committee’s calendar in May.

Leahy, a Democrat, blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the bill’s failure. Reid reportedly has strong ties to trial lawyers, and they were concerned about a fee-shifting provision of the bill that would require the loser to pay the winner’s legal fees.

Though patent reform efforts have ceased for the moment -- mainly because of the November election -- experts say they’re nowhere near dead.

During last week’s town hall, Obama also seemed to indicate the fight is not over.

“One of the biggest problems that we’ve been working on is how do we deal with these folks who basically are filing phony patents and are costing some of our best innovators tons of money in court; or if they don’t go to court, they end up having to pay them off even though they’re making a bogus claim just because it’s not worth it for you to incur all the litigation costs,” he said, adding that “some progress” has been made.

“We continue to work with Congress to do more.”

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at patents@legalnewsline.com.

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