Obama Administration Releases 3-Year IP Enforcement Plan


The Obama Administration released a joint strategic plan on intellectual property enforcement for fiscal years 2017 through 2019. The title of the report is Supporting Innovation, Creativity & Enterprise.

The section on patents, which begins on page 134, begins by saying:

Patent-intensive industries are a driving force in the U.S. economy. According to a recent Department of Commerce report, the value added by patent-intensive industries in 2014 was $881 billion, which was 5.1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Supporting efficient and predictable patent protection policies that promote investments in research and development is key to the continued growth of innovative economies.

Without effective mechanisms to protect intellectual property rights, including patents and trade secrets, competitors could simply sit back and copy, rather than invest the time and resources required to invent and innovate. Research and development would be even riskier investments, with little to no assurance that such investments would or could be commercially put into use. Simply put, facilitating efficient and predictable patent protection policies harnesses the drive and ingenuity of our innovators and helps ensure that our economy remains innovative and competitive.

The report goes on to explain that balanced policies are necessary to provide the necessary incentive to innovation while still minimizing abusive patent litigation practices. The report explains that the USPTO leadership has attempted to achieve this balance through a comprehensive patent quality initiative. The report explains:

USPTO’s Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative plays a fundamental role in institutionalizing best practices associated with patent quality at all stages of the patent examination process. The initiative, among other advantages, raises Patent Examiners’ awareness of available search tools, improves resources to identify relevant prior art, identifies best practices to enhance the clarity of prosecution records, and captures data about the correctness and clarity of Patent Examiners’ work products that will facilitate future decision- making. Quality examination practices at the outset is key to building confidence in the patent system and promoting innovation.

The report acknowledges that there have been many changes to U.S. patent law and that it is important to monitor the impact of those changes on the patent system. The report offers several Action Items, including:

  • Continue implementation of the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative.
  • Promote continued collaboration between rights holders and the USPTO to benchmark post grant proceedings.
  • Promote continued training and dialogue regarding emerging technologies on the patent system.
  • Provide expert technical assistance to Congress on any necessary patent reform efforts.

By taking these steps, the Obama Administration seems to believe that a balance between patent holders and the public,  and an end to what they call “truly frivolous litigation,” can be achieved. Whether President-Elect Donald Trump will follow this plan once he is sworn into office on January 20, 2017 remains to be seen.


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