Apple, Microsoft, and Others Push Back Against Proposed Patent Law Changes

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Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has joined forces with several other major U.S. companies in order to push back against patent system changes being proposed by members of Congress, reports Reuters. Apple, DuPont (NYSE:DD), Ford (NYSE:F), GE (NYSE:GE), IBM (NYSE:IBM), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) have launched a lobbying group called Partnership for American Innovation. According to Partnership for American Innovation, the group’s goal is to “safeguard America’s position as a global innovation leader.”

Former U.S. Patent Trademark Office director David Kappos — a senior adviser to the group — noted that the current efforts to reform the patent system could actually harm America’s innovators. “It is in our country’s best interest to have a patent system that rises above short-term interests, and creates long-term gains for all sectors of the economy,” stated Kappos in a Partnership for American Innovation press release. “We must move beyond rhetoric that ‘the system is broken and trolls are bringing businesses to a complete halt’ to a discussion of calibrated improvements for what is actually the best patent system our planet has.”

As noted by Reuters, the patent reform legislation in dispute is targeted at “patent assertion entities,” or PAEs. PAEs do not manufacture or sell any product, but use patents to extract patent-licensing fees from other companies. Although many of the patents asserted by PAEs are questionable, companies typically negotiate a patent-licensing fee out-of-court in order to avoid the cost of litigation. A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last December could force patent litigation losers to pay the legal bills of the winning party, as well as require patent-infringement lawsuits to provide details about which patent is being violated.

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