A report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) looking into patent litigation and quality has said the focus should be on the type of patent, rather than the identity of the litigant.
According to the study, lawsuits involving software related patents accounted for 89 per cent of the rise in defendants between 2007 and 2011.
In 2011 software related patents made up more than half of all of those issued in the US and the report states most of the lawsuits brought by entities involved patents from this area.
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has taken several actions recently that are likely to affect patent quality and litigation in the future, including agency initiatives and changes required by America Invents Act.
For example, in November 2011, the USPTO began working with the software industry to develop more uniform terminology for software-related patents. The GAO commended this in its report.
The study did bring forward a single recommendation, stating that the USPTO should consider examining trends in patent infringement litigation, which includes the types of patents and issues being disputed.
It said this information should be linked to internal data on patent examination to improve the quality of issued patents on the entire process.
Acting under secretary and acting director at the GAO Teresa Stanek Rea said in a letter her organization agreed with the findings.
“The USPTO appreciates GAO’s recommendation. The USPTO currently uses information relating to cases involved in patent litigation, and agrees that it would be appropriate to consider making better use of such information by examining trends in patent infringement litigation,” she said.
She went on to say the USPTO also believes it would be appropriate to consider linking trends in patent litigation to internal data on patent examination, as part of its ongoing effort to improve the quality of issued patents and the patent examination process.
Should the recommendations be implemented, the quality of software patents should be improved.
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