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.