The Government Accountability Office issued a report on August 22, 2013 – mandated by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act[1] – recommending that the Secretary of Commerce direct the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to “consider examining trends in patent infringement litigation, including the types of patent and issues in dispute, and to consider linking this information to internal data on patent examination to improve the quality of issued patents and the patent examination process.”[2]

Additionally, the report stated that the number of patent infringement lawsuits has gone up since enactment of the America Invents Act, that software-related patents are often overly broad or have unclear claims, and that patents are “a more valuable asset than once assumed.”[3] The GAO report concluded that “the focus on the identity of the litigant—rather than the type of patent—may be misplaced.”[4]

The actor vs. patent issue has been a focal point of the abusive patent litigation debate in Congress this session. The problem of abusive patent litigation has led to the issuance of a White House report,[5] introduction of six bills,[6] dissemination of a discussion draft,[7] and Congressional hearings on the topic.[8]

The issues with abusive patent litigation and patent quality have also been the subjects of monitoring and analysis by Drinker Biddle’s Intellectual Property (IP) Lobbying and Government Affairs team.

Organizations can consider advocating their positions in a couple of different ways, and Drinker Biddle’s IP advocacy team can assist in this effort. Drinker Biddle is available to assist organizations in authoring their comments or seeking a meeting with members of Congress. For support in this effort and for more information on our capabilities, please contact Michael Remington or Nathan Pollard.

For more information, the GAO report is available at: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657103.pdf.