Feeds

Fearless slayer of lawsuit-lovin' patent trolls steps forward from shadows

New law drafted to tackle court battles sucking millions of dollars from US bizes

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

After years of inaction on patent law, a new bill has been introduced to the House of Representatives that could curb the scourge of patent trolls that is costing American businesses billions every year.

The Innovation Act [PDF, summary] was put forward by House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). The draft law attempts to limit patent claims to a device manufacturer of a technology rather thab the actual users; make litigants pay full costs if their lawsuits are unsuccessful; and require plaintiffs to demonstrate much higher standards of evidence before a case can begin and to disclose the original owner of a contested patent.

“Abusive patent litigation is a drag on our economy," said Goodlatte in a statement. "Everyone from independent inventors, to start-ups, to mid and large sized businesses face this constant threat."

"The tens of billions of dollars spent on settlements and litigation expenses associated with abusive patent suits represent truly wasted capital – wasted capital that could have been used to create new jobs, fund R&D, and create new innovations and technologies."

The legislation is co-sponsored by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum, giving it a better than average chance of getting passed. One of the co-sponsors, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), previously introduced the anti-troll SHIELD Act earlier this year, but will now concentrate on the new legislation.

Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, said his organization "applauded" the introduction of the Innovation Act. "Frivolous patent litigation is a massive problem and it is getting worse," he said. "This bill contains smart and targeted reforms that will help promote continued innovation in the U.S. and make life difficult for those who seek to abuse our patent system."

News of the legislative move was also welcomed by the Software & Information Industry Association, which called it a serious attempt to solve the problem. The EFF is also pleased with the bill, although it noted that it would have liked stronger consumer protections and higher costs for frivolous patent lawsuits. But it thanked the trolls for making patent legislation such a priority.

"The trolls have done all the hard work for us," said Julie Samuels, senior staff attorney and holder of The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents at the EFF in a statement. "They targeted app developers for using generally available technology. They sued small city governments for using bus tracking software. They went after businesses for using scan-to-email technology and the kind of WiFi routers you would buy off the shelf at Best Buy."

"Thank you, trolls. You didn't only get our attention, you got the attention of Rep. Goodlatte, along with other congressional leaders, the FTC, and even the President. We're going to be working hard to make sure that not only is your 15 minutes of fame over, but so too is your entire business model."

Meanwhile Intellectual Ventures, the patent holding company set up by former Microsoftie Nathan Myhrvold, has been gearing up for a fight on the issue. USA Today reports Intellectual Ventures, which doesn’t engaging in gratuitous trolling but makes its money from licensing fees, has doubled its lobbying spending in the last three months.

"One of the things we want to do is make sure we are educating lawmakers on what [Intellectual Ventures] is and how the secondary market for patents works," Russell Merbeth, its chief policy counsel. "Our overarching concern is ... to make sure that the patent system is not weakened as a result of any of the actions or activities undertaken by the executive branch or Congress." ®

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.