It appears the White House has become serious about reigning in NPEs (non-practicing entities or “patent trolls”). President Barack Obama has announced seven legislative proposals and five executive actions designed to curb the damaging activities of these entities. Some of our internal estimates have IP litigation increasing 1000% over the last decade in the U.S., a staggering figure and a key driver to expanding legal budgets, especially in patent heavy verticals such as Technology. If effective, this potential legislation and action should be a welcome change to our clients within corporate legal departments.
However, one must wonder about the associated risks and challenges that come with some of these proposed changes. For instance, one of the executive actions President Obama has outlined includes the tightening of functional claiming, which requires increased specificity in patent claims. Although seemingly a sensible change, some legitimate organizations could face additional risk or exposure from competitors on their intellectual property given the more limited nature of future patent filings.
Only time will tell the full effect of these actions, but it’s certainly going to put any IP attorneys or functions on alert. You can read more on the subject in the article “White House Takes on ‘Patent Trolls’” at ALM’s Corporate Counsel website.