Patent News

Jan. 22, 2015

The National Law Journal: ‘Trolls?’ Patent Director Says the Term Isn’t Helpful, by Jenna Greene

This article originally appeared in The National Law Journal on January 22, 2015.

Outlining her vision for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Deputy Director Michelle Lee—whose nomination to head the agency is pending before the Senate—on Thursday stressed quality and innovation in an hourlong talk before a Washington think tank.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution, Lee said it was crucial that patents issue “promptly and accurately,” but recognized “if there is abusive litigation or a patent should not issue, there is also a cost to our businesses.”

As for so-called patent trolls, she said “I don’t find the term helpful. It means different things to different people. We need to focus on behavior.”

She continued, “Our system should be agnostic” about whether an applicant intends to manufacturer a product based on a patent or opts for another business strategy such as licensing the invention. For the PTO, the bottom line is the same: “to incentivize innovation and curtail abusive patent litigation.”