Following the emphasis on American innovation in President Obama's recent State of the Union address, the White House recently published a report defining the administration's plans in a number of areas, including reform of the U.S. patent system.
The report invokes the words of Abraham Lincoln, who said that the U.S. Constitution's recognition of intellectual property rights adds "the fuel of interest to the fire of genius."
Describing innovation as part of the essential "American character," the report proposes a number of reforms, including implementation of a fast-track mechanism for the patent review and approval process, viewed by many as overly bureaucratic.
The report calls for a government commitment to "making the necessary public investments to support high quality patent examination, lower legal uncertainty and clear persistent patent application backlogs."
This, according to the report, will ensure that "entrepreneurs are not faced with unnecessary risk or left waiting for years before a patent decision is made."
Moves to simplify the U.S. patent system come at a time when other countries are taking similar measures. A committee of the European Parliament recently approved plans to create a unified patent system for several European countries.