I would have written this post sooner, but I was too busy being traumatized by my “bag experiences” on the trip to DC. Texas doesn’t charge for bags, y’all, because how are you supposed to get four vitamin waters and the latest ELLE magazine and possibly three Twix bars from the counter in CVS to your car without one? It’s silly on the face of it, you Yankees.
Last Thursday was the White House Patent Stakeholder Meeting, the purpose of which was to update interested parties on the status of government efforts to curb the ill effects of patent trolling. I don’t know that I’d call myself a government hater because
hello? NSA drones! I’m not really into hating. But I am of the opinion that there’s not a whole lot we really want the Feds doing to fix this problem…free market capitalism is capable of handling the bullies at the bike rack.
Nevertheless, here’s what the Feds have proposed (apologies for the poor scan):
Of the ideas that they have put forth, one stuck out mostly because it was something that the patent examiner that I interviewed (here, here, and here) talked about. Patent examiners need more education on fast-moving technological targets, as well as an education on the legal system and how the patents that they grant or don’t grant may possible be used. Attacking the problem at the source is fundamental, and they seem to grasp that.
Also on the list was “crowdsourcing prior art” which was odd, given that there’s Article One Partners who’re already doing it and can the government really do it better than the private sector? Methinks not. It just didn’t strike me as an innovative idea, unless they’re talking about giving this option to the patent examiner pre-grant. That would be cool. Allow the examiners to post up claims from applications and see if the crowd can identify a precursor!
The White House continues to call for demand letter transparency, which was a subset of item #1 on their handout. This of course struck me as the most useful of potential solutions, given that it provides exposure to the troll’s tactics and, you know, I built a tool to collect them. The whole point is to expose as many data points as possible surrounding these letters so that we can draw conclusions, figure out the big picture, and react accordingly.
The idea of demand letter transparency is gaining traction and I really hope that government attention will drive folks to add their information in. There’s no risk, no exposure with That Patent Tool: users are free to redact whatever fields they feel may be detrimental for other members to know. It’s been suggested that as soon as a victim admits s/he’s been hit by a troll, there’s the potential that other trolls will also come calling. But I have believed for a long time that even if we don’t know who a demand letter was sent to, there is tremendous value in getting whatever information we can about the sender and the actual demands being made. This provides bargaining power for other victims and puts them more in control of their own fate. There’s also a way to anonymously contribute to online discussions with other recipients…collaboration is good!
I have to say, I was pretty geeked out to participate in the event, and so was everyone else there. It’s not often that people who deal with the subject of patents and litigation get invited to the prom. I caught more than one or two people snapping pics of the podium (you know who you are!) and generally fangirl/fanboy-ing around the room. I may or may not have joined them. Good times.
You know what they could’ve used at the meeting though? Snacks.