It's not hard to see that the patent system in the US needs a major overhaul. Patents have been issued that are so obvious and wide reaching that it seems anything made today violates one patent or another. The Senate is set to start working on a bill in early September to reform the patent system. Sadly, Reuters reports that the bill does very little to actually reform the patent process.
The Senate will vote on September 6 to take up the patent bill that the House passed in June. The bill is expected to pass the House and end up on Obama's desk where it appears he will sign it into a law. The thing is the bill offers no meaningful alternative to litigation. One part of the bill allows the patent office to set its own fees in hopes that the ability will allow it to clear the backlog of applications. I can only assume that means the fees will increase significantly in hopes that it would discourage people from filing.
The reality is that will only keep the little guys from filing. Tech firms like Google and Microsoft with deep pockets will not bat an eye at a higher fee. The bill also has a post-grant review process that would allow challenges to bad patents. The bill would also grant a patent to the first person to file rather than forcing people that file for similar items to show they were the first to develop. Few think that the patent bill will do anything to slow the litigation we are seeing today.