With the 114th Congress starting in January, patent “reformers” have stepped up their cries for legislation aimed at altering the enforceability of U.S. patents. Hearing those cries, lawmakers are again debating ways to reduce patent litigation by tinkering with the management U.S. judges exercise over the patent cases pending in their courtrooms. While the effort on Capitol Hill proposes to reduce patent disputes by making changes to the tail end of the system, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has taken a different tack.
Through the Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars program, the Patent Office is studying how to reduce litigation by improving the way patents are written and how they are granted. At an event earlier this week, three visiting scholars outlined their research efforts including a study designed to bring more clarity to patent boundaries and research examining how to use high-powered data analysis to uncover prior art.
Good fences make good neighbors, so in making patent rights more certain, patent disputes can be resolved long before they reach the courtroom, making patent licensing and technology transfer more efficient and allowing companies easier access to the patents they need.
While the seemingly endless patent debate continues in Congress, the Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars Program is just one example of the many ways in which the Patent Office, the Courts, and the business community are quietly, but effectively and efficiently, improving our patent system without the need for legislation to micromanage the judiciary.