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Google Calls For Patent Reform

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Google is throwing its weight behind the Patent Reform Act, expected to come to a vote in the House of Representatives later this week. The company feels excessive patent litigation is a drag on the free market.

"Unfortunately, the patent system has not kept pace with the changes in the innovation economy," write Johanna Shelton, Google’s Policy Council and Legislative Strategist, and Michelle Lee, Google’s Head of Patents and Patent Strategy.

"Google and other technology companies increasingly face mounting legal costs to defend against frivolous patent claims from parties gaming the system to forestall competition or reap windfall profits."

The company joins a large number of technology companies in a group called the Coalition for Patent Fairness, which includes Adobe, Apple, Cisco, Comcast, Dell, eBay, HP, Intel, Lenovo, Lexmark, MasterCard, McAfee, Microsoft, Sun, Time Warner, and Visa, just to name a few.

Google says it supports the current legislation and has made argued these four points to Congress:

·    Damages apportionment. Damages should be calculated based on the fair share of the patent’s contribution to the value of a product, and not on the value of a whole product that has many components. So for example, a windshield wiper found to infringe a patent should not spur a damage award based on the value of the entire car.

·    Restricting forum-shopping. Certain district courts have become notorious for rarely invalidating a patent, and have tilted the balance too often in favor of plaintiffs. We support judicial venue provisions to ensure that patent lawsuits are brought only in district courts with a reasonable connection to the case.

·    Post-grant review. The patent system should include a meaningful second chance for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review potentially problematic patents in a timely way, thereby promoting high-quality patents.

·    Willfullness. Patent infringers can be forced to pay triple the damages in cases where they are found to have "willfully" infringed a patent, but that standard has been devalued. Punitive triple damages should be reserved for cases of truly egregious conduct.

Google Calls For Patent Reform
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