The Obama Administration is in the process of launching initiatives aimed at helping inventors who need legal help filing patents and/or defendants who have been targeted by patent assertion entities (PAEs), the latest term for what is commonly called a patent troll. PAEs are defined as businesses that center their business model on patent lawsuits and demand letters.
The three main initiatives are in various states of readiness:
- A section of the USPTO website (currently in Beta) will be devoted to helping people and businesses who have received a demand letter or have been sued by a PAE. This resource is not designed to take the place of legal counsel, but may be useful in helping defendants consider their options.
- Soon, a crowdsourcing initiative will be launched in which inventors will be able to help each other determine whether an invention is truly novel, or whether there is prior art that could invalidate it.
- The White House will make more patent prosecution help available to inventors and businesses through expanding a USPTO patent examiner training program, and will also make more pro bono legal resources available to help inventors who lack legal representation file patent applications.
Not surprisingly, Microsoft and others in the tech arena are pleased with the White House's efforts to disarm PAEs. Microsoft has also launched a patent tracker tool and prior art program of its own in the name of adding transparency to its patents.
More information about the Obama Administration's plans to protect inventors can be found in this infographic.