Summary: Reform in the USPTO and the US courts should focus on patent scope and not patent holders
We recently wrote about new efforts by Senator Schumer to fix the US patent system. He got a lot of positive coverage for it, but he is back to focusing on trolls (as before [1, 2]) rather than the core issue he recently spoke about. That would be patents scope. Masnick’s Web site says: “It’s now being reported that Schumer is set to introduce a new bill that will expand Section 18 to cover technology patents, rather than just limiting it to business method patents (the more cynical among you will note the rapid growth of New York’s tech sector as a reason for this expansion). This is definitely a big step in the right direction. If something like this was also combined with the SHIELD Act, which shifts fees to the trolls for bogus patent lawsuits, it would really help limit some of the most egregious activities of trolls. “
This would not, however, resolve the issue as a whole.
Dan O’Connor writes that “Senator Schumer announced he is introducing a bill next week to extend the Covered Business Methods program, which forestalls litigation on financial product patents while the PTO reviews their validity, to all patents. Given that trolls, particularly trolls that target startups, often use low quality patents, this would help limit outright extortion conditioned on the high cost of conducting successful patent defenses.”
Naming trolls is irrelevant to a large degree. Just eliminate the offending class of patents and see how trolls starve. Statistics suggest that they rely on such patents. That is why software patents should be the focus. Outside the US, suggests strong evidence, patent trolls are scarce and rare because they have no access to such patents in the first place. █