The US government is considering a bill, known as the End Anonymous Patents bill (HR 2024), which could help to make the patents system more transparent.
The proposed legislation, would strengthen the definitions used in patent cases and require firms to be clear about which party controls a patent when a suit is filed.
According to advocates of the bill, proposed by Florida Democrat Ted Deutch, the act would make it harder for patent-holding firms to transfer ownership of patents between companies and to file violation claims, thus allowing firms greater freedom when developing new products.
According to Adi Kamdar, activist and blogger for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the proposed law would require firms to disclose when a shell company is filing a patent infringement claim and leave large firms accountable for malicious 'patent troll' activities.
Kamdar said: “We currently don't have an effective way of confirming who owns a particular patent, nor do we know what patents a particular person or company owns.
“A combination of poor record-keeping infrastructure and practices, as well as scheming businesses that transfer patent ownership to shell companies, has resulted in a hazy patent system where the lack of transparency has become a competitive tool.”
The move marks the latest attempt by the US government to clamp down on frivolous patent lawsuits. Opponents say that patent-holding firms are taking advantage of vague laws to file suits in order to extort money out of developers rather than enter into long and costly legal wars.