IP-ID? Identifying patent ownership – a patent troll’s nightmare?

patenttroll

[Our first blog post was on patent trolls.  Here we go again, as it is mildly related to competition issues.]

In an effort to “bring much-needed transparency to our current patents system,” Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), has introduced proposed legislation that would require any sales or transfers of patents to be disclosed to the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), including information on the real “party in interest.”

The bill (H.R. 2024), bearing the common name “End Anonymous Patents Act”, would require this “IP-ID” (our moniker) for all new patents and for existing patents upon scheduled maintenance fee payments.

According to Deutch:

“Patent trolls go to great lengths to conceal the relevant ownership and interests involved. This total lack of transparency by people seeking to game the system unfairly disadvantages businesses honestly seeking to license patents and those targeted in frivolous lawsuits brought by trolls.”

An IP professor at Santa Clara Univ. School of Law wrote in her year-old paper, “The Who Owns What Problem in Patent Law, that “the ‘who owns what’ problem frustrates risk management and decision-making about patents, creates arbitrage and hold up opportunities, and forms a major component of patent notice failure.”

While some interest groups, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), want even more disclosure than what the pending House bill proposes — including identification of license(e)s — the “IP-ID” proposal would go a long way toward eliminating patent trolls’ ability to hide behind various layers of shell companies.

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