US looks at patent law again

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING -

WASH­ING­TON: Even as they bat­tle in courts over smart­phone and video tech­nol­ogy, Mi­crosoft and Google have dis­cov­ered a com­mon foe: patent own­ers who sue their cus­tomers or hound an in­dus­try.

Both com­pa­nies are seek­ing to curb the lit­i­ga­tion prac­tices of firms that buy patents with the sole pur­pose of de­mand­ing roy­al­ties from as many end-users as they can – even if it means su­ing a pizza par­lour or an NGO. Anger has united retailers, fi­nance com­pa­nies, pub­lic-tran­sit op­er­a­tors and ho­tels, and even caught the at­ten­tion of US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who last month an­nounced cor­rec­tive mea­sures.

Fo­cus­ing on that core is­sue could cre­ate pres­sure in the US Congress for leg­is­la­tion and ac­tion by US courts – as long as com­pa­nies side­step the delays that marred the pre­vi­ous ef­fort to change patent law, which took al­most a decade.

“Go­ing af­ter bad lit­i­ga­tion be­hav­iour is an ap­proach we can all agree on,” said Tim Molino, di­rec­tor of govern­ment re­la­tions for Wash­ing­ton-based BSA, also known as The Soft­ware Al­liance, whose mem­bers in­clude Mi­crosoft and Or­a­cle.

Google spokesman Matt Kallman re­ferred ques­tions about patent leg­is­la­tion to the Coali­tion for Patent Fair­ness, a Wash­ing­ton-based lob­by­ing group backed by Google, Cisco Sys­tems and In­tel Corp.

Matt Tanielian, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the coali­tion, says this is not just about patent law. “It’s about the econ­omy and con­sumer pro­tec­tion,” he said. – Wash­ing­ton Post

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