Patent reform legislation just can’t seem to catch a break.
In 2014, Congress seemed poised to pass another round of patent form, but disagreements over matters such as fee shifting derailed the Innovation Act. Now, both major political parties have expressed interest in further reforming the patent system, primarily focusing on activities of non-practicing entities—also known as patent trolls—companies that make no products but use patents to generate revenue via licensing or litigation.
Now, though, it seems that the current slate of patent reform bills has received criticism from industry groups for not going far enough. A major coalition of businesses that support patent reform, United for Patent Reform (UFPR), has written a letter to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce stating that proposed legislation “falls far short.”
UFPR had some harsh words for the subcommittee that is considering the bill, stating that the organization cannot support it as written. Some of the language in the bill is causing concern for UFPR, such as wording that bans demand letters sent in “bad faith.” UFPR asserts that this will make it harder to enforce, as it would do nothing about demand letters that have other issues, such as misrepresentation or omissions.
Another area of concern is that the bill requires trolls to have shown a “pattern of practice” in sending demand letters. That terminology is vague and gives no guidelines as to the number or frequency of letters that would constitute a pattern. In its letter, UFPR urges the committee to address the devastating impact of trolls, ultimately concluding that the current bill would not get the job done.