Patent Reform On New Subcomittee’s Agenda

BY Matt Schruers
January 4, 2011

As Congress returns this week, intellectual property reform will likely be high on the agenda of the Judiciary committee’s new Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet.  Patent mayhem has not abated during the hiatus in reform efforts.  The unprecedented litigation foodfight in the smartphone marketplace, for example, continues to grow, with Sony filing ITC claims against LG.  (An effort to document the status quo of the sprawling litigation in November appears here, although even this effort is now dated, and omits several patent holding companies.)

Patent holding companies – non-practicing entities (NPEs) derided by some as “trolls” – continue to gain headlines.  As the Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro argued in a column last week, Interval Licensing’s recently amended shotgun suit asserts “insultingly generic” patents against a dozen Internet and e-commerce leaders, including an epic 129-claim patent on “a system for acquiring and reviewing a body of information.”  And in early December, one of the most recognized NPEs, Intellectual Ventures, apparently elected against it previous practice of selling patents to prospective litigants, and sued a half-dozen technology companies directly.

With patent-related disputes hamstringing the technology industry at a time when the Administration wants to innovate its way out the economic slowdown, there is a strong case for pursuing aggressive patent reform in this Congress.

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