USPTO officials have long accepted industry feedback as a welcome and necessary ingredient for patent system progress, but a string of disapproving statements coming out of the software sector has changed the tone of the conversation. To keep both sides moving forward toward smarter solutions, USPTO director David Kappos recently preached patience and encouraged critics to take a more careful view of the facts.
In an address delivered at the Center for American Progress, Kappos took objection to media coverage of the so-called smartphone patent wars, suggesting that the reporting was characterized more by "flippant rhetoric" than empirical evidence.
"The fact is, the explosion of innovation - and follow-on litigation - that we see across consumer electronics hardware and software is a direct reflection of how our patent system wires us for innovation," Kappos said. "It's both natural and reasonable that in a fast-growing, competitive market, innovators seeks to protect their breakthroughs using our patent system."
According to The New York Times, which published an in-depth editorial on these topics just last month, Kappos reminded critics that approximately 80 percent of American patents involved in mobile hardware litigation were ultimately deemed valid. For example, Apple was awarded $1 billion in damages in an infringement case against South Korean tech manufacturer Samsung.
Perhaps most importantly, according to Ars Technica, Kappos said crucial legislative reforms haven't been given a proper chance to make their mark. When the America Invents Act is fully implemented in 2013, USPTO officials believe they will have a firmer foundation for weeding out low-quality patents.