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Obama: Government Halfway on Patent Reform

By - Source: Ruters | B 30 comments

Entrepreneurs need more protection against those who try to "extort" them.

United States President Barack Obama has said that the government is halfway from where it wants to be regarding patent reforms.

Patent reforms that were passed in 2012 don't do enough to fully protect entrepreneurs from software patent holders who try to exploit them, Obama stated in his fourth annual appearance on YouTube, which followed the State of the Union address where he signed a cybersecurity executive order.

"We passed some legislation last year, but it hasn't captured all the problems," Obama said during the Google+ Hangout that was hosted on YouTube. He was responding to a question posed pertaining to what the government was doing in order to promote innovation, as well as to protect against patent trolls.

"The folks that you're talking about are a classic example," Obama said regarding patent trolls. "They don't actually produce anything themselves. They're trying to essentially leverage and hijack someone else's side and see if they can extort some money out of them."

Back in 2011, Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which saw the U.S. patent system being changed to a "first-to-file" system instead of a first-to-invent system. Previously, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded patents when inventors created the idea as opposed to when they filed a patent application.

Obama emphasized that the ability for entrepreneurs to build software without being blocked by petty patent suits must be balanced against the rights of intellectual property holders. "But I do think that our efforts at patent reform only went about halfway to where we need to go. What we need to do is pull together additional stakeholders and see if we can build some additional consensus on smarter patent laws."

He continued to state that he is committed to protecting individuals' privacy and their civil liberties, as well as keeping the Internet "open," although he failed to expand on the latter. "Whether it's how we're dealing with copyrights, how we're dealing with patents -- what we've tried to do is be an honest broker between the various stakeholders."

The president referred to a conversation he had with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg about why he decided to learn programming. He wanted to write games, apparently. Both elementary and high school students should have more access to classes that teach them fundamental programming skills, Obama stressed. "I want to make sure they know how to actually produce stuff using computers, and not just consume stuff."

During 2011, the smartphone industry spent $20 billion on patents. For the first time in their history, spending by both Apple and Google exceeded their spending on research and development of new products.

Obama Google Hangout

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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , February 19, 2013 12:04 PM
    So the patent office has gone backwards now you don't actually have to invent something to patent it you can just draw a diagram of something and get a patent for it without actually doing anything else.
  • 13 Hide
    Memnarchon , February 19, 2013 10:39 AM
    EstixMark my words: What starts as 'patent reform'will just end up as another SOPA.

    What patents have to do with SOPA? oO
    But I see what you are trying to say...
  • 11 Hide
    john15v16 , February 19, 2013 2:45 PM
    @ankit0x1, susyque747, classzero -

    Ok so you don't like president Obama, that's fine, it's a free country. But stick to the issues and the facts. The facts are that the current abuse of our patent system is due to a majority republican controlled congress (109th and 110th) under the Bush administration... I'm neither Democrat nor Republican but it's obvious that Obama is simply attempting to, yet again, fix the mess the previous republican majority put us in...

    Their should be rules against under-aged minors on Toms forums...
Other Comments
  • -8 Hide
    Estix , February 19, 2013 10:25 AM
    Mark my words: What starts as 'patent reform'will just end up as another SOPA.
  • 13 Hide
    Memnarchon , February 19, 2013 10:39 AM
    EstixMark my words: What starts as 'patent reform'will just end up as another SOPA.

    What patents have to do with SOPA? oO
    But I see what you are trying to say...
  • -2 Hide
    classzero , February 19, 2013 11:46 AM
    ankit0x1he is clueless

    and half the nation elected him.
  • 9 Hide
    excella1221 , February 19, 2013 11:52 AM
    Let's be positive, people.
    This is better than nothing, at least it's a start.
  • 0 Hide
    greghome , February 19, 2013 11:59 AM
    classzeroand half the nation elected him.


    Half the nation doesn't even understand Evolution, but claims it's just some false myth
  • 16 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , February 19, 2013 12:04 PM
    So the patent office has gone backwards now you don't actually have to invent something to patent it you can just draw a diagram of something and get a patent for it without actually doing anything else.
  • 8 Hide
    Soda-88 , February 19, 2013 12:21 PM
    Great, if it stops idiotic patents like recent slide-to-unlock.
  • 8 Hide
    alvine , February 19, 2013 12:28 PM
    I better start drawing stuff..
  • 10 Hide
    IndignantSkeptic , February 19, 2013 12:37 PM
    I'm glad Obama recognises there's a problem with the patent system but hasn't be made it much worse by switching us to a first to file system? Doesn't that mean that the sort of people who are cyber squatters can just extort money from inventors. By the way, when is trademark law going to be updated to prevent cyber squatting? What I mean is people who find out a product or company name and then register ownership of the website name before the trademark holder can. That should not be allowed under trademark law; whoever owns the trademark should automatically own the website name. Now we are going to have jerks who find out about an inventor's invention and then will just register ownership of that invention before the inventor can. That's not fair and not right after the inventor worked so hard that some idiot jerk can just swoop in and own their invention without doing any work really and just take the inventor's money and put them into debt. This is certainly not good for scientific advancement; but a big win for Luddites I suppose. I'm getting the feeling that lawmakers are largely idiots and too slow and old and hope computers will just go away soon.
  • 5 Hide
    LORD_ORION , February 19, 2013 12:45 PM
    IndignantSkepticI'm glad Obama recognises there's a problem with the patent system but hasn't be made it much worse by switching us to a first to file system? Doesn't that mean that the sort of people who are cyber squatters can just extort money from inventors. By the way, when is trademark law going to be updated to prevent cyber squatting? What I mean is people who find out a product or company name and then register ownership of the website name before the trademark holder can. That should not be allowed under trademark law; whoever owns the trademark should automatically own the website name. Now we are going to have jerks who find out about an inventor's invention and then will just register ownership of that invention before the inventor can. That's not fair and not right after the inventor worked so hard that some idiot jerk can just swoop in and own their invention without doing any work really and just take the inventor's money and put them into debt. This is certainly not good for scientific advancement; but a big win for Luddites I suppose. I'm getting the feeling that lawmakers are largely idiots and too slow and old and hope computers will just go away soon.


    Exactly what I was thinking, "first to file" as a fix to the patent problem is double speak. Companies with large legal resources can now look back at previous and obvious works actually implemented by others, and file a patent on them.
  • 5 Hide
    uglynerdman , February 19, 2013 1:27 PM
    now there is no more room for justice left even in invention in America. If a company steals my designs then it doesnt matter because they filed first.
  • 2 Hide
    ethanolson , February 19, 2013 1:43 PM
    Here's what I'd push for:
    1. Throw out all the obvious patents
    2. All patent submissions that appear like a logical evolution of current technology should get a round of "prove it" questions and a time to respond to support the uniqueness
    3. Throw out the unsubstantiated ones
    4. Grant a theoretical patent (i.e. where invention has not yet been realized) for no more than 7 years
    5. Throw out the fruitless ones
    6. Allow a patent extension/modification upon successful invention
    7. Extensions can be granted up to a maximum of 20 years if the filing-to-invention time period is accounted for
    8. Information technology and data patent extensions should never last more than 7 years anyway
    9. Electromechanical patent extensions should last no more than 11 years
    10. Mechanical and physics-technology patent extensions should last no more than 15 years
    11. Patent trolls should be banished to the Palmyra or Johnston Atolls.
  • 2 Hide
    InvalidError , February 19, 2013 2:11 PM
    uglynerdmannow there is no more room for justice left even in invention in America. If a company steals my designs then it doesnt matter because they filed first.

    Even worse: with a first-to-file system, it means if an inventor spouts off random new ideas he is exploring to determine whether or not they are worth patenting and someone catches wind of any of them, the real inventor gets screwed.

    "First-to-file" basically requires that people start patenting stuff before putting any real work in it or risk getting screwed, which means it promotes filing more patents for minor or stupid things just-in-case.

    A REAL patent reform should focus on improving the QUALITY of patents, culling the vast volume of stupid/obvious/trivial patents that are the root cause of most unnecessary lawsuits and concerns.
  • 9 Hide
    athulajp , February 19, 2013 2:45 PM
    greghomeHalf the nation doesn't even understand Evolution, but claims it's just some false myth

    The half of the nation that doesn't believe in evolution is also the half that voted Romney
  • 11 Hide
    john15v16 , February 19, 2013 2:45 PM
    @ankit0x1, susyque747, classzero -

    Ok so you don't like president Obama, that's fine, it's a free country. But stick to the issues and the facts. The facts are that the current abuse of our patent system is due to a majority republican controlled congress (109th and 110th) under the Bush administration... I'm neither Democrat nor Republican but it's obvious that Obama is simply attempting to, yet again, fix the mess the previous republican majority put us in...

    Their should be rules against under-aged minors on Toms forums...
  • 6 Hide
    greghome , February 19, 2013 2:53 PM
    athulajpThe half of the nation that doesn't believe in evolution is also the half that voted Romney


    and people wonder why do Europeans look at Americans funny
  • 1 Hide
    athulajp , February 19, 2013 3:18 PM
    greghomeand people wonder why do Europeans look at Americans funny

    Because on top of just having a lot of mormons, they think that overprivileged, unexperienced greedy mormons are qualified to run for office.
  • 2 Hide
    Wisecracker , February 19, 2013 3:36 PM

    It's interesting in all these squabbles, no one has seen fit to comment on the statement that patent spending last year by both Apple and Google exceeded their spending on research and development of new products.

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