The Obama administration unveiled several initiatives it said would help crack down on patent trolls, and attorneys say that, while the efforts may help weed out vague patents favored by some trolls, the practical effect of the changes may not be seen for years.

The initiatives are focused on improving patent quality by giving patent examiners more training and encouraging the public to submit prior art that could prevent bad patents from being issued. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) said it was also expanding its efforts to “crowdsource” prior art by creating new ways for the public to submit evidence that an invention is not novel and that a patent should not be issued.

USPTO examiners have an abundance of work and limited time to do it, so involving the public in tracking down hard-to-locate prior art will be a boon for the agency, said Brian W. LaCorte, a Phoenix-based Intellectual Property partner at Ballard Spahr. The America Invents Act created new ways to crowdsource prior art, and expanding those efforts could be helpful, he said.

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