The White House recently announced new measures to improve the patent process and improve intellectual property protection as, despite the Obama administration's urging, Congress has yet to act on these issues. Obama also asked Congress again to pass legislation meant to reduce abusive patent legislation, according to The Wall Street Journal.
TechCrunch reports the most novel component of the administration's plan is a proposal to use crowdsourcing to help search for prior patents.
"Right now, it is very difficult to find prior art - previous inventions and published ideas that cover a claim - especially for vaguely worded software patents," according to civil liberties organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Currently, the patent office is understaffed and it's difficult to research all of the ideas that may already be patented. For this reason, a crowdsourcing initiative would be useful, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The administration is currently seeking proposals for ways to organize previous patent claims in a way that would be easy to search.
Many of the other initiatives the administration introduced are meant to help small businesses navigate any intellectual property issues they encounter. According to a Santa Clara University study, early-stage startups are particularly vulnerable to patent assertion entities that take advantage of the complexity of intellectual property law to intimidate entrepreneurs.