New York Senator Charles Schumer has continued his push toward patent system progress this week with a new bill intended to reduce frivolous lawsuits and thwart legal bully tactics that could curb small business innovation. Under the new legislation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office would be asked to assume a more proactive role earlier in the dispute process.
Schumer's previous contributions to patent reform included an America Invents Act update in 2011 that instituted a program by which financial service firms could directly contest the business method patents of competitors at USPTO offices. His latest vision would extend the process to cover a wider range of patent categories.
"This legislation will provide small technology startups with the opportunity to efficiently address [patent dispute] claims outside the legal system, saving billions of dollars in litigation fees," Schumer explained. "The Patent and Trademark Office is already reviewing 20 patent cases in a temporary patent review program, and I am confident that extending this program will be beneficial to New York's, and the nation's, economy."
As TechCrunch columnist Ingrid Lunden noted, charging the USPTO with weighing the validity of infringement claims prior to trial could do much more than clear the schedule of crowded courtrooms. During these review processes, examiners could also root out low-quality patents that plaintiffs are using as initial justification for their suits.