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Apple, Microsoft, IBM, & others team up to defend U.S. patent system

Image Credit: Illustration by Eric Blattberg / VentureBeat

Seven tech and pharmaceutical giants formed a lobbying group Thursday aimed at defending the U.S. patent system from pending legislation they argue could unfairly harm innovative companies.

The Partnership for American Innovation (PAI), which includes Apple, Dupont, Ford, GE, IBM, Microsoft, and Pfizer, is nervous about patent legislation being deliberated in the U.S. Senate. Lawmakers have been working to pass legislation hampering patent assertion entities (patent trolls) from buying up patents and extracting licensing fees or suing without actually creating anything.

The group vehemently opposes efforts to make software and biotechnology unpatentable.

“It is in our country’s best interest to have a patent system that rises above short-term interests and creates long-term gains for all sectors of the economy,” David Kappos, former U.S. patent trademark office director and the PAI’s senior advisor, said in a statement announcing the group’s formation and principles. “We must move beyond rhetoric that ‘the system is broken and trolls are bringing businesses to a complete halt’ to a discussion of calibrated improvements for what is actually the best patent system our planet has.”

On the other side of the debate are companies like Google and Cisco, which have doled out billions to patent trolls following lengthy legal battles. They supported the Innovation Act, a landmark patent reform bill that sailed through the U.S. House of Representative in December.

A Microsoft representative reached out to VentureBeat to clarify that the company doesn’t oppose patent reform — it supported the Innovation Act in Congress, he noted — but reiterated Kappos’ point that the patent system is essential to safeguarding companies’ investments in research and development.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case involving software patents that could dramatically alter patent law for software. Major tech companies including Twitter, Netflix, LinkedIn, Github, and Yelp filed a brief to the Supreme Court, arguing “innovation happens despite software patents, not because of them.”

Updated at 8:46 AM pacific on Thursday, April 3 with Microsoft’s reaction

More information:

1876 was also the year that Thomas Alva Edison opened a laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, where he could explore the possibilities of the dynamo and other electrical devices that he had seen in the Exposition. Out of that laborator... read more »

Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

International Business Machines Corporation, abbreviated IBM and nicknamed Big Blue (for its official corporate color), is a global technology and innovation company headquartered in the Northeast US. IBM is the largest technology and ... read more »

Pfizer is a pharmaceutical company, ranking number one in sales in the world. The company is based in New York with its research headquarters in Groton, Connecticut. It produces such proliferate medications such as Lipito, Lyrica, the ... read more »

Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brand... read more »

DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 90 count... read more »

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