On February 20, 2014, the White House hosted an event "highlight[ing] progress on the [Obama] Administration's patent policy agenda." Orrick intellectual property attorney Wesley Helmholz attended the event at the White House's invitation, along with technology company representatives, members of the patent litigation community, and other stakeholders. The event commemorated the one-year anniversary of President Obama's "call to action" to combat patent trolls and "abusive patent litigation." White House Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Todd Park, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and PTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee described the Administration's progress on new and existing patent reform initiatives and called on Congress to pass "common-sense patent reform legislation [to] curtail abusive patent litigation and improve transparency in the patent system."
The White House and PTO understand the major problems with the patent system and, instead of merely addressing symptoms, are making upstream changes to address patent quality and claim scope, in addition to ownership transparency. The White House and the PTO also are signaling they welcome engagement with stakeholders, announcing several upcoming Patent Office talks in the same vein as last year's roundtable discussions and also incorporating private company involvement in several initiatives (such as crowdsourcing prior art). The effectiveness of the initiatives on patent quality, trolls, and litigation abuse remains to be seen, but the executive branch is doing its part to improve the patent system and reduce abusive litigation.