Senators Call for PTO Changes, Better Patent Quality

Senators Call for PTO Changes, Better Patent Quality Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

As legislation to fight abusive patent litigation languishes in Congress, a handful of Senate Democrats have called on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to turn up the heat on patent trolls by reducing “low-quality, vague patents” and improving the patent examination process.

In a letter sent this week to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who oversees the PTO, Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Mark Begich of Alaska, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Tom Udall of New Mexico wrote that the agency already has “additional tools that could significantly reduce abusive patent trolling.” The letter came three months after Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., put the Senate’s leading patent litigation reform bill, the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act, on ice following disagreement about a path forward for the measure.

The PTO should focus its attention on increasing the use of data analysis and crowdsourcing to pinpoint potentially bothersome patents, improving public access to patent information and ensuring examiners encourage “fully built-out” patent applications, among other efforts, the senators wrote in their letter.

Affiliate publication Corporate Counsel has more.

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