Over at the Google Public Policy Blog, Johanna Shelton, Policy Counsel and Legislative Strategist, and Michelle Lee, Head of Patents and Patent Strategy, presented Google’s stance on patent reform. I have mentioned this topic before and that Congress was also looking into how to make our patent system more fair and also protect the inventors. What further complicates our patent system is that it cannot handle the load nor is it capable to some extent in properly handling intellectual property rights.

Some of the proposed patent changes are:

  • Damages apportionment. Damages should be calculated based on the fair share of the patent’s contribution to the value of a product, and not on the value of a whole product that has many components. So for example, a windshield wiper found to an infringe a patent should not spur a damage award based on the value of the entire car.
  • Restricting forum-shopping. Certain district courts have become notorious for rarely invalidating a patent, and have tilted the balance too often in favor of plaintiffs. We support judicial venue provisions to ensure that patent lawsuits are brought only in district courts with a reasonable connection to the case.
  • Post-grant review. The patent system should include a meaningful second chance for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review potentially problematic patents in a timely way, thereby promoting high-quality patents.
  • Willfullness. Patent infringers can be forced to pay triple the damages in cases where they are found to have “willfully” infringed a patent, but that standard has been devalued. Punitive triple damages should be reserved for cases of truly egregious conduct.

I believe it is time that our patent system be overhauled. Hopefully Google will be able to help in making these needed changes a reality.

But what do you think?

Comments welcome.

Full blog article can be found here.

[tags]google, blog, policy, patent reform[/tags]