Today the White House announced a number of executive actions aimed at patent reform and preventing frivilous lawsuits by certain firms that hold patents, called patent trolls.
The companies in question do not actually make anything, but they do own a number of patents. Patent trolls make money by suing other companies -- especially big tech firms -- for patent violations.
President Obama is calling these lawsuits are abusive. High tech companies, like Google, say the patents these businesses own are weak. Nonetheless, firms that are sued still must spend time and money fighting lawsuits -- and sometimes they just settle.
The executive actions include updating patent ownership information so it is clear who owns the patent and protecting stores and consumers from patent lawsuits. The administration also wants Congress to pass legislation that would give judges more discretion in awarding attorney's fees to companies that are sued, so they can get the money back they spent fighting the lawsuit.