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President Obama to Tackle Patent Trolls

Plan comes as Congress ramps up new bills

President Obama is joining in the battle against patent trolls. On Tuesday, he announced a set of five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations aimed at patent assertion entities that are disrupting the digital economy. Along with the action plan, the National Economic Council and the Council of Economic advisers released a report, Patent Assertion and U.S. Innovation.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal

Obama's actions will come as good news to both the tech and advertising community, which have had to defend themselves against patent trolls that hold patents for what many consider to be common business practices.

"[Patent trolls] don't actually produce anything themselves; they're just trying to hijack somebody else's idea and see if they can extort some money out of them," Obama said in a Google+ Fireside Hangout in February.

Going after patent trolls may be one of the few areas where Congress and Obama can find common ground. At the same time that the president is getting involved in the issue, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of Congress have either introduced bills or are circulating discussion drafts of bills.

"We are encouraged by the attention the issue is receiving in recent weeks," the White House said in a statement. "We stand ready to work with Congress on these issues crucial to our economy, American jobs and innovation. While no single law or policy can address all these issues, much can and should be done to increase clarity and level the playing field for innovators."

Many of the solutions Obama plans to recommend are taken up in various congressional bills, such as requiring patent holders to divulge ownership and sanction companies that bring frivolous lawsuits. The president is also expected to direct the Patent and Trademark Office to make changes in how it reviews patents, especially overly broad patent claims.

"We welcome and applaud the president's engagement in this issue and the very constructive plan he's putting forth," said Dick O'Brien, evp, American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), which issued guidance Monday to its members for how to handle patent claims for clients. "Left unchecked, these [patent] abuses will apply a serious brake on the creativity and innovation that has fueled the growth of the tech economy."

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