President Obama Tuesday introduced executive orders to combat the very patent trollery described in this week's This American Life, which detailed how so-called patent protectors buy up patents only to profit from lawsuits against inventors. Companies like Intellectual Ventures claim to help the little guy by paying them for ideas, which they don't know how to profit from on their own. But IV then sells the legal rights to shell companies, like Oasis Research, who use these acquisitions to sue inventors. IV has arranged the whole thing so it gets 90 percent of those profits.
To help combat this abusive practice, part of Obama's recommendations include a requirement that "patentees and applicants to disclose the 'Real Party-in-Interest.'" It took two years since the first This American Life program on patent trolling for its reporters to make the connection between Intellectual Ventures and Oasis Research, which seemingly operated together to sue the inventors IV claimed to protect. The new legislation, however, would make these company connections clear. "This tactic prevents those facing litigation from knowing the full extent of the patents that their adversaries hold when negotiating settlements, or even knowing connections between multiple trolls," explains the White House's recommendations.