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Obama says patent reform needs to go farther

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, in an unusual foray into patent law, on Thursday said U.S. patent reform needs to go farther to address the trend of companies that do not manufacture any products aggressively suing other companies for patent infringement.

High-tech companies in particular have complained to regulators about big patent licensing companies that manufacture nothing but sue long lists of firms, often using weak patents to do so. Many high-tech firms settle to avoid litigation risk but some, like Google, fight back.

The polite term for these firms is "non-practicing entities" but in private they are more rudely called "patent trolls."

. . . Long focused on large corporations because of their deep pockets, these entities have recently turned their attention to start-ups which are not as established but have raised large amounts of money and often have substantial revenue.

. . . The increase in patent lawsuits by these companies is so pronounced that they now constitute the majority of U.S. patent lawsuits, according to a study by Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University and a patent expert.

She found that about 61 percent of all patent lawsuits filed through December 1, were brought by patent-assertion entities, or individuals and companies that work aggressively and opportunistically to assert patents as a business model. . .

During my working career I served as chair of the patent committee for two different companies. The experience left me convinced that our patent system is so badly broken that we would be better off without it. Patents today do not protect actual innovators. They protect patent trolls and attorneys. This article actually provides some figures that back that assertion up.
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