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Monday, 7 June 2004


The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is putting forward reforms to the US patent system reports the BBC. Both the administrators and business are fed up with patents being used anticompetitively. One problem is that patents are granted to undeserving claims because lack of funds has led to insufficient time being devoted to their examination. A further problem is the rise of “patent trolls” (see IPKat blog of Thursday 14 August 2003) who buy up paper patents and use them in order to hold the industry to ransom, claiming that the technology covered by their patent is being infringed by the whole industry, even if the feature is very minor. In response, the FTC has had proposals on the drawing board for a year which include a new administrative procedure to challenge a patent's validity without having to go to law and measures to limit the awards of treble damages for infringement.

The IPKat welcomes this approach to the problems of patent abuse. It recognises that patents can be used anticompetitively and seeks to close the specific loopholes that allow this to happen while at the same time acknowledging that the patent system is fundamentally OK.

More patent abuse here
More trolls here, here, here and here

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