Whatever you call them – patent assertion entities (PAEs), non-practicing entities (NPEs), patent trolls or something else entirely – companies that bring patent litigation suits were a hot topic at the American Intellectual Property Law Association Conference in Washington D.C. One new wrinkle in the ongoing story that caught the attention of attendees was the latest version of a patent reform bill written by Representative Bob Goodlatte. Just recently, the bill has received quite a bit of support from technology companies.
Rep. Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican and chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced proposed legislation he’s calling the “Innovation Act.” The goal of the bill is to increase transparency and accountability in the patent litigation system.
Among the proposals in Goodlatte’s bill is the concept of “fee-shifting,” which would require the loser in a patent suit to pay the winner’s legal fees. This would, in theory, encourage companies slapped with infringement suits to go to court rather than settle, which is what patent trolls typically want. The bill would also prevent plaintiffs from demanding excessive documents and inhibit shell companies that tend to crop up in these suits.
Goodlatte’s bill seems to have bipartisan support in the House, and a similar bill is expected from Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy in the near future. Tech companies have thrown their support toward the Innovation Act, and, recently, other industries, ranging from casinos to supermarkets and others, have expressed their desire for patent reform as well.
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