Patent reform: Obama goes troll-hunting – The president proposes a new round of intellectual-property reform

The solitary, lumbering trolls of Scandinavian mythology would sometimes be turned to stone by exposure to sunlight. Barack Obama is hoping that several measures announced on June 4th will have a similarly paralysing effect on their modern incarnation, the patent troll.According to this saga of intellectual-property misanthropy, these creatures roam the business world, buying up patents and then using them to demand extravagant payouts from companies they accuse of infringing them. Often, their victims pay up rather than face the costs of a legal battle. In one much-cited example last year, MPHJ Technologies and dozens of associated shell companies sent letters to thousands of small businesses demanding $900-1,200 per employee for using scanners which they claimed infringed patents. Vermont’s attorney-general is now suing MPHJ, accusing it of breaking state consumer laws. see:The White House Takes Aim at Patent Trolls
Frustration with patent trolls, and momentum for reform, has been building for some time now. Today, the stakes got even higher when the White House announced that it was actively taking on the troll problem. This is big news, and not just because of the seven legislative proposals the White House recommends (more on those below). Even more important are the five executive actions the President intends to take with or without congressional help.The news here is good. Not all of these reforms go as far as we’d like, but each takes on dangerous aspects of the patent troll business model. Numerous bills are pending before Congress and key policymakers have spoken out against patent trolls. Taken together with this statement from the White House, the message is clear: the time for patent reform is now.

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