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US trade commish kicks off patent-troll-nixing plan

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The US International Trade Commission has kicked off a pilot scheme to rein in the glut of intellectual property claims from patent trolls.

The ITC said that it will soon require complaining firms to prove upfront that they have any actual business in the States before pursuing their case.

The commission has become a popular forum for companies looking for faster results from patent complaints. The ITC's judges oversee issues over unfair practices in imported goods, including patent, trademark and copyright problems, theft of trade secrets and other practices. Crucially, they can recommend that infringing products are banned from the US.

For the pilot programme, the ITC will allow its judges to figure out within 100 days whether or not the companies that want to pursue patent lawsuits have an adequate presence in the country to actually avail themselves of the commission's protection.

The commission said that it would make "appropriate adjustments" to the scheme over time and would evaluate the results of the pilot to assess whether it wants to make the domestic industry requirement a permanent rule.

Lobby group the ITC Working Group, which includes Google, Intel and HP in its members, told Reuters it welcomed the programme.

"Addressing this will require more than administrative fixes, but the pilot program is a step forward that could help limit costly and unnecessary patent cases," executive director Matt Tanielian said. ®

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