Obama administration takes aim at patent trolls with legislative changes

patent_trollAfter spending last week under the hot lights of Congressional investigators about its taxes, Apple hopes to switch gears and ask for government help fighting so-called patent trolls. Among the iPhone maker’s potential allies: U.S. President Obama, who reportedly plans to limit such costly legal nuisance lawsuits.

As part of the proposed plan the White House is expected to unveil, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would gain some teeth, requiring patent holders to disclose companies which actually own the technology, reports the Wall Street Journal…

According to The Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration plans to, among other things, direct the Patent and Trademark Office to start a rule-making process aimed at requiring patent holders to disclose the owner of a patent, according to senior Obama administration officials.

Often, businesses sued for alleged patent infringement are the targets of shell companies such as Intertrust, where Sony and Philips each hold a 49.5 percent stake.

Also aimed at the USPTO, the White House will also ask the agency to “take a more discerning look at overly broad technology patents insofar as they are typically the type of patents wielded by patent trolls,” according to TUAW.

In another effort to limit what Obama has described as the ability to “leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money of them,” the plan would also attempt to restrict companies using the International Trade Commission to call for import bans against competitors.

Samsung, for example, won an ITC ruling yesterday which has found Apple guilty of infringing Samsung patent, meaning Apple is now facing a possible U.S. import ban on certain devices. Finally, the Congress will be asked to enact sanctions against patent trolls that file lawsuits later deemed abusive.

The issue is important to Apple, the target of 44 lawsuits by patent trolls such as VirnetX and Lodsys.

And with more than $100 billion in cash stashed in banks around the globe, small wonder that Apple has become a favorite target of such lawsuits.