Sometimes, when we take a long journey, we realize that what we perceive to be the end of our path is really the beginning of a new path. And, according to Dana Collaruli, director of the Office of Government Affairs at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), this is exactly where the IP space finds itself right now.

The America Invents Act (AIA) certainly seemed like the end of a journey, but now, less than two years after its passage, the government is back talking about patent reform. Collaruli believes that, after 10 years of near exhaustion, there is still a lot to discuss, as nearly all of the sections of the AIA that dealt with litigation fell out in the legislative process.

Todd Dickinson, executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), was on hand to interview Collaruli during the morning plenary session of the AIPLA conference. Dickinson asked Collaruli about the current administration’s seeming fixation on patent assertion entities (PAEs). Collaruli agreed that there has been a lot of fervor around so-called “patent trolls” and abuse of litigation. The issue, he said, was the undefinable nature of the term “troll.” He believes that the legislative discussion on this topic has matured and that the discussion now revolves around the expense of resolving rights, which by its nature devalues those rights. Collaruli explained that the USPTO and other expert agencies are channeling the discussion from Capitol Hill and listening to new voices on the subject, such as app developers and the retail industry.

The topic then turned to the latest bill proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte. Collaruli stated that he has seen drafts of the bill and given comments. He believes it attempts to address four of the seven issues that President Obama mentioned in his June 4, 2013, speech on the topic. Collaruli feels that it is a good start to the conversation and that it should receive bipartisan support.

Collaruli served to kick off an event that was filled with information, discussion and thought leadership by attorneys, scholars and government officials. Check back for more news from the AIPLA conference all week!


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