Patent reform has been gaining traction in the U.S. over the past few years. Although many inventors fear the uncertainty that comes with patent reforms, the goal of patent reform is to encourage a climate of innovation, free of those who seek to abuse the patent system.
In order to mitigate the effects of the uncertainties caused by patent reform legislation, patent attorneys in the Priori network are dedicated to keeping up-to-date with patent reform legislation and looking out for any potential issues on the horizon.
Most patent reform legislation is focused on targeting individuals and entities that are patent trolling. Patent trolling occurs when a company specifically buys up patents with the sole intention of suing manufacturers and users who might be infringing on their patents. Patent trolls do not actually manufacture or use the products, processes, or machines they patent.
The patents owned by patent trolls are often overly broad, so that many potential inventions can be considered infringing. In other cases, patent trolls file for patents for stolen technology with the intention of making the inventor pay a settlement in order to continue developing or selling the invented technology.
Current Patent Reform Efforts Against Patent Trolls
If legislation targeting patent trolls is successfully passed and effectively used, patent trolls will become less of a drag on innovation, especially in rapidly-evolving tech industries. Reform legislation has already made some progress against patent trolls. For example, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been tightening requirements for the specificity of patents that are approved.
For most innovators, this is a good thing, but it also means that when your company applies for a patent, it will be that much more important to make sure that all the paperwork is done correctly. An experienced patent attorney can help ensure that you are filing correctly.
The PATENT Act and the Innovation Act
The two most sweeping patent reform bills currently making their way through Congress are The Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act (PATENT Act) from the Senate and the Innovation Act from the House. Both of these bills are aimed at curbing abuse of the patent system by patent trolls. They propose the following:
- raising the pleading requirements for the complaint in patent infringement cases so that it is harder to bring unsubstantiated cases;
- minimizing discovery costs;
- protecting end users from legislation involving the manufacturer accused of infringement; and
- making fee shifting easier if the case is determined to be without merit.
All of these patent reform changes would make it more difficult to bring harassing and invalid cases against truly innovative companies.
Depending on your situation, the cost of hiring a lawyer through Priori’s network can vary significantly, but patent lawyers typically start around $225 per hour and range upward to around $450 per hour. In order to get a better sense of cost for your particular situation, put in a request to schedule a complimentary consultation and receive a free price quote from one of our lawyers.
If new patent reform legislation passes, could I lose my patent protection?
Patent reform is intended to crack down on patent trolls, so patent reform legislation is targeted at those abusing the patent system for the sake of predatory legislation, not inventors. That said, it is impossible to know what impact a particular patent reform act will have on your particular patent without the details of your situation. If you are worried about your patent protection, consult a patent attorney to discuss specifics.