Edging Patent Trolls Out Through Higher Quality Patents

By Kevin Kramer, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel

The resources that Yahoo and others spend fighting patent trolls and their abusive litigation tactics could be better spent to research and develop new products, to invest in facilities and equipment, and to create jobs.

One way to curb abusive patent lawsuits is to improve patent quality. Yahoo is working to do this in several ways. We share prior art, publish technological developments that we do not patent, and train patent examiners on emerging technologies.

  • Sharing Prior Art: We have shared prior art relevant to our business and intend to do so in the future. We are considering ways to more easily share non-confidential information with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). We believe that the more information we make available to patent examiners, and the more time they get to study that information, the better equipped they are to analyze patent applications and determine what is patentable and what is not.
  • Publication: We routinely publish technological developments that we do not pursue as patents to share information that not only helps patent examiners but also encourages innovation. Our publications are available on IP.com.
  • Training : Over the past five years, Yahoo has conducted nine seminars to train USPTO examiners about  technologies relevant to our business. For example, we provided both live and web-based trainings on cloud computing, databases, big data, web search, sponsored search, data center cooling, and advertising technologies. These trainings have provided the examining corps with a better understanding of the technologies relevant to the world wide web.

Even with our active engagement, more work remains to stop poor patents and abusive patent litigation. We applaud the Obama administration’s efforts to improve the patent system and to ensure a level playing field for innovators, as well as high quality patents. Yahoo supports legislative reforms that reduce incentives to engage in abusive patent litigation practices, and we look forward to continue working with the USPTO and like-minded companies to improve the system.