IBM and Microsoft Just Killed the Patent Reform


Thu, Nov 21st, 2013 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Timothy B. Lee of The Washington Post, one of the provisions in the "legislation aimed at reining in abusive patent litigation" designed to "nix low-quality software patents" will not make its way into law thanks in part to the "aggressive lobbying campaign by patent-rich software companies such as IBM and Microsoft."

The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He unveiled a new version of his bill last month, touting it as a cure for the problem of patent trolls. One provision would have expanded what's known as the "covered business method" (CBM) program, which provides an expedited process for the Patent Office to get rid of low-quality software patents. That change would aid in the fight against patent trolls because low-quality software patents are trolls' weapon of choice.

But the change could affect the bottom lines of companies with large software patent portfolios. And few firms have larger software patent portfolios than Microsoft and IBM. These companies, which also happen to have two of the software industry's largest lobbying budgets, have been leading voices against the expansion of the CBM program.

The CBM program provides a quick and cost-effective way for a defendant to challenge the validity of a plaintiff's patent. Under the program, litigation over the patent is put on hold while the Patent Office considers a patent's validity. That's important because the high cost of patent litigation is a big source of leverage for patent trolls.



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