At a February 20 White House event, administration officials announced major progress on a series of initiatives to strengthen the U.S. patent system and foster innovation. At the event, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Deputy Director Michelle Lee discussed the importance of improving the U.S. patent system and protecting innovators from “patent trolls.” These new initiatives are likely to affect information governance requirements as they relate to intellectual property.
Secretary Pritzker cited data showing that intellectual property-intensive industries account for more than one-third of our nation’s gross domestic product and nearly 28% of jobs. “Clearly, IP protection is a pillar of the U.S. economy, and we should be doing everything possible to ensure a smart, 21st century patent system,” she said.
Three new executive actions were announced at the event to address abusive litigation practices and strengthen the U.S. patent system to keep up with the evolving needs of industry. The three actions task the USPTO with identifying technical and hard-to-find information, known as prior art, to help patent examiners make more informed decisions about the patent worthiness of an invention; creating a public-private partnership to provide nationwide pro bono support and resources for inventors and small business owners who apply for patents without legal help; and expanding examiner training programs to ensure that they have the most relevant and current information.
On the same day, the USPTO also announced progress in implementing four executive actions the White House issued in June 2013. The progress focused on increasing transparency of patent ownership information; increasing training of patent examiners to provide tighter scrutiny on patent claims that are too broad; establishing an online toolkit that will help consumers and business who face litigation to understand their rights and get the answers they need; and increasing research and outreach to scholars and business groups.
The announcements at the White House were intended to reinforce the president’s State of the Union message calling for passage of patent reform legislation that would strengthen the nation’s intellectual property system.