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US takes steps to bolster patent system, cut frivolous lawsuits

Published on Feb 21, 2014 3:51 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The White House announced steps on Thursday designed to reduce frivolous patent lawsuits by trying to make it easier to identify who owns patents and by updating review processes to ensure that fewer weak patents are granted.

Major technology companies such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. have for years sought protection against companies that typically do not invent anything, but instead buy or license patents from others and then extract licensing fees or file infringement lawsuits.

Companies have said the increase in such litigation stifles innovation and costs billion of dollars in legal fees.

Recently some retailers, coffee shops and other low-tech companies have joined the complaints. Some say that they have been targeted by patent assertion entities, called "patent trolls" by critics, if they, for example, offer free Wi-Fi services to their customers.

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