Tech companies join patent war in DC

Groups with names like the Coalition for Patent Fairness, the Main Street Patent Coalition, the Partnership for American Innovation, and the Innovation Alliance are descending on Washington, promoting innovation, supporting small inventors, and driving job growth.

These groups—supported by deep-pocketed high-tech companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm—all want a say in a patent reform measure that has already cleared the House and another that the Senate is considering, according to POLITICO. What's not so clear is what specific policies these groups champion.

Google, POLITICO notes, wants to make it easier to throw out bad software patents; Apple, Microsoft, and IBM (which have joined the Partnership for American Innovation) want to reduce frivolous lawsuits but protect their own patent portfolios; and Qualcomm is resistant to ambitious patent reforms (as are pharmaceutical companies and companies in other patent-heavy industries). Qualcomm supports the Innovation Alliance, as does Deak Kamen, founder of DEKA Research and Development, who has been an outspoken supporter of strong patent rights (see here, for example).

Patent trolls are the targets of many companies. POLITICO reports that Cisco, Google, Oracle, Samsung, and others are supporting the Coalition for Patent Fairness, which has fought to curb incentives for patent-assertion entities.

Meanwhile, the Main Street Patent Coalition is looking to curb patent trolls on behalf of organizations like the National Restaurant Association and the National Retail Federation with indirect support from Google. The Consumer Electronics Association shares a similar goal.

With companies and organizations pursuing often contradictory and even sometimes self-contradictory goals, the patent war is shaping up to be, as POLITICO puts it, a “messy fight.”

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