Patent litigation is a term that has become all too familiar in the marketplace. Industries that use technology of any relevance to patent-holders are frequently held liable for infringement if they are not careful with their creation and manufacturing processes. However, for the printing business, patent claims were unheard of until printers began getting demand letters to print QR codes and use workflow software this past year.
A Direct Marketing report quoted Michael Makin, president and CEO of the Printing Industries of America regarding the increase in the need for education of patent claims. “We have been astounded by the thuggish action of these enterprises,” Makin testified in a hearing on patent trolls held by the Senate Judiciary Committee. “One printer in Kansas received a letter demanding $75,000 to avoid a suit, with the threat that in two weeks it would go up to $90,000. This puts undue stress on an industry already facing low profits and lower demand.”
As the market continues to move from print to digital, printers are at a major disadvantage begin with, add to that lawsuits regarding patent litigation, and you have a situation that is not only unfair, but stands to hurt the future of these businesses. Small printers and large software companies fall victims to patent trolls who use the high cost of litigation and the limited requirements for filing lawsuits to blackmail businesses into paying settlements.
Earlier this month, InsideCounsel reported on news of the Innovation Act being sent to the House committee on a 33-5 vote to determine the future of patent reform. With this law, the legislation will require patent trolls to file claims stating specific patent violations, which will in turn delay the expensive discovery phases of trial until after courts validate each claim.
According to Direct Marketing, judiciary committee chairman Patrick Leahy is now trying to push through a similar bill in the Senate that comes down harder on demand letters. The bill attempts to nip many of the suits in the bud by giving the Federal Trade Commission powers to enforce limits on them.
Like the Innovation Act, the Senate bill includes a fee shifting provision, which will hamper the ability of small inventors to enforce their patent rights. The proposed law could only aid entrepreneurs holding proprietary patents.
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