Obama to target patent trolls with executive actions

The Obama administration will reportedly announce a set of executive actions on Tuesday aimed at reining in certain patent holders amid concerns they are abusing the current system and squelching competition.

President Obama will instruct the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to initiate a rule-making process that would require patent holders to disclose the owner of a patent, senior Obama administration officials told The Wall Street Journal. He will reportedly announce five executive actions and seven proposed legislative changes, including asking Congress for legislation that would sanction litigants who file lawsuits deemed abusive by the courts.

Patent assertion entities (… Read more

Patent trolls launched majority of U.S. patent cases in 2012

It's hip to be litigious.

In case the spat between Apple and Samsung, and myriad other tussles between tech giants weren't proof enough, comes a new study that says lawsuits filed by patent trolls last year made up the majority of patent-related complaints filed in the U.S.

The study, which was published by UC Hastings and Lex Machina this morning, analyzed about 13,000 cases spanning some 30,000 patents. It's a follow-up to last October's look at some 100 lawsuits, which found that lawsuits from patent firms were up 22 percent in the past … Read more

Unified Patents, backed by Google, takes fight to patent trolls

A new front has been opened in the ongoing battle between patent trolls and their targets.

A startup, called Unified Patents and formed by former Intuit intellectual property litigation chief Kevin Jakel, attempts to take aim at companies that collect patents and target other businesses for licensing fees or lawsuits. Unified Patents, which made its presence known in a Wall Street Journal profile yesterday, believes that it can achieve its goal by showing strength in numbers. It's currently in the process of recruiting several companies to join the organization and the fight.

According to the Journal, Unified Patents has … Read more

Google lobbies against patent privateering

Google has banded together with BlackBerry, EarthLink, and Red Hat in an effort to expose the deleterious, industrywide consequences of patent privateering, or the practice of companies outsourcing patent enforcement to independent legal-happy entities with no technologies of their own.

The Mountain View, Calif., company, in conjunction with the others, submitted its comments -- more like grave concerns -- on the practice in a note to the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. The companies assert that patent transfers to patent assertion entities (PAEs), aka patent trolls, undermine patent peace, and Google et al are pushing the government … Read more

Rackspace fights back with suit against 'notorious' patent troll

Fed up with patent trolls, Rackspace is going on the offensive.

After successfully defending itself from a patent infringement lawsuit over Linux, the Texas-based cloud infrastructure service provider says it filed a lawsuit today against Parallel Iron and IP Nav, a patent assertion entity (PAE) that Rackspace calls "the most notorious patent troll in America."

Commonly referred to as patent trolls, PAEs are created to extract licensing fees from other companies rather than make products based on the patents.

In a blog post today, Rackspace said Parallel Iron sued it and 11 other defendants in Delaware last week … Read more

Trolls take on 9-year-old girl's Kickstarter project...and lose

My dear sweet Internet, you have been the light of my life for nearly two decades, so why must you choose now to impart so much darkness and sadness?

Last week, my editors spotted and passed on an adorable project on Kickstarter attempting to raise 800 bucks to send a 9-year-old girl to a weeklong camp where she would learn to design her own role-playing game. Backers who pledged $10 or more would get a copy of the game she produced. The heartwarming sentiment resonated, and the project quickly caught fire and has so far raised more than $20,000, or more than 20 times its target.

So we published a brief write-up of the campaign's success on Friday and began our weekend in good spirits, our faith in the world reaffirmed and visions of a new generation of empowered gamer girls dancing in our heads.

Then came the trolls.

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Twitter troll annoys boxer, boxer pays him a visit

Several visits to bars when I was 13 taught me a simple thing: it's rarely good to insult someone who's larger and more muscular than you are.

The Web, though, offers some theoretical protection from this maxim. The object of your bile doesn't know who you are.

There again, they could find out. Which is what British boxer Curtis Woodhouse decided to do after a particular annoying human being mocked him on Twitter.

Woodhouse, you see, had just lost a fight for the English light-welterweight title. As so often seems to happen in this sport, the decision … Read more

Second push in Congress to force patent trolls to pay up

A couple of congressmen today reintroduced a bill that will likely command a standing ovation throughout Silicon Valley. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) are taking aim at so-called patent trolls with a proposal that would force them to pick up the tab for a defendant's legal costs if their patent lawsuit fails to prevail.

This is the second time around for the Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes, or SHIELD Act. The co-sponsors first submitted the bill last August, but the provision withered on the political vine for a couple of reasons. The bill faced strong … Read more

Obama: We're only halfway there on patent reform

Patent reforms passed last year don't go far enough to fully protect entrepreneurs from software patent holders who try to exploit them, President Barack Obama said today in his fourth annual appearance on YouTube following the State of the Union address.

"We passed some legislation last year, but it hasn't captured all the problems," Obama said during the Google+ Hangout, hosted on YouTube, in response to a question about what the government was doing to promote innovation -- and protect against what the questioner called "patent trolls."

"The folks that you're talking … Read more