Patent trolls continue to be an ongoing issue in the ever-changing technology landscape as more and more large organizations purchase groups of patents with no intention of utilizing them in their products. With patent infringement claims not subsiding anytime soon, legal executives and lawmakers are working together to begin to curb abusive patent litigations from trolls that target businesses with lawsuits on their purchased patents.
So how do the smaller businesses protect themselves from being unnecessarily targeted? The first step that was taken this past year was the Innovation Act, a bill that was approved last month in a majority bipartisan vote of 325-91. The Act has since been sent to the Senate and is waiting on a final decision.
In addition to the Innovation Act, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 this past November to provide targeted organizations with additional security in patent claims. A recent Legal Newsline report quoted Todd Dickinson, executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association calling the attempt to curb abusive patent litigation “the better approach.”
While the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act has been referred to as the less ambitious approach to the House’s Innovation Act, they share the same intentions to increase transparency in patent ownership. According to the report, the organization that holds the patent and files the suit would have to disclose anyone with a financial interest in the case or that could be affected by the outcome. The bill also provides additional resources for small business that are targeted.
The biggest difference between the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act and the Innovation Act, is that the new Act does not include the provisions that would force patent infringement case management rules on the district courts. Lawmakers are concerned that these provisions could prove problematic in the long run.
In terms of next steps, the Act, which was assigned to a congressional committee in late November, must first be considered before it is sent on to the House or Senate for final ruling.
Interested in learning more about how states are dealing with the patent troll problem? Join the AGs from Vermont, Missouri and Nebraska, as well as GCs from Rackspace, duPont and Walmart for a roundtable discussion. The event will be take place on February 4, 2014 in New York City. To register, click here.
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