ITAA urges Congress to enact patent reform

The Information Technology Association of America warned Congress today that the U.S. patent system is broken and needs to be fixed because inefficiencies, poor quality patents and the inordinate risk of litigation are keeping America's small businesses from realizing their innovative potential.

"The current system, in my view, leaves small business in a position where we are afraid to innovate," said Mitchell Gross, chairman and CEO of Mobius Management Systems Inc., and a member of the board of ITAA's IT Services division.

He called for both additional scrutiny of patents and a more balanced approach to enforcement. Those "are the prices we have to pay to sustain a viable and useful patent system," he said.

Gross told the House Small Business Committee that the process for issuing patents is too expensive, too long and frequently results in questionable patents that lend themselves to challenges in court.

In court, he added, the system is so tilted to the plaintiff/patentee's advantage that defendants are forced to settle, regardless of the merits of their defense or the weakness of the patent underlying the plaintiff's claims.

In his written testimony, he said that if he had to characterize the problem in a few words, he might say "too much risk of losing a fight when a bad patent stands up against innovation."

He characterized a bad patent as one that is overly broad in its coverage and often covers a process that usually does not seem very novel. "I think the problem may be particularly acute in the software and IT services industry," he said.

Gross said it is important to have a viable, low cost administrative process for reviewing patents already issued, to see if the claims of validity hold up when challenged, without having to go to court.

"Of course, it is not the fact of overbroad patents that matters; it is the consequence of infringement that weighs most heavily in the equation," he said. "And right now, the risk of very high damages or of exorbitant settlement requests is, to my mind, very real."

ITAA has about 325 corporate members ranging in size from small IT start-ups to industry leaders throughout the United States. It is also secretariat of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, a global network of 67 countries' IT associations.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Our databases track awards back to 2013. Read More

  • Navigating the trends and issues of 2016 Nick Wakeman

    In our latest WT Insider Report, we pull together our best advice, insights and reporting on the trends and issues that will shape the market in 2016 and beyond. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.