Bipartisan Bill Aimed at 'Patent Trolls' Introduced in U.S. House
"This is probably the most important of the proposals out there," said Matt Levy, patent counsel for the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which issued statements of support for both the House and Senate versions of the bill. "This allows you to disarm the trolls." "This legislation would help recall bad patents that have become the weapons of patent trolls," said CCIA president and CEO Ed Black in a prepared statement. "The patent system has become off balance with a few bad actors using the legal system to extort money from everyone from restaurants and businesses that have Websites to those buying office equipment." Levy explained that business methods patents cover ways that companies can make use of existing technology. For example, a recent patent that covers emailing a scanned document doesn't claim to have invented scanners, email or the networks over which they travel. Instead, that patent, which is being widely asserted, claims to have invented the process. While the patent claim is bogus, the only way to challenge the patent is to prove it only through the use of existing patents or printed publications that show prior art. The new legislation would allow a much broader choice in the ways that the patent could be shown to be invalid.According to observations by Matt Levy in his blog, many of the provisions in the bills introduced in the last few months will likely be integrated into fewer bills by the chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The legislation, coupled with the investigations launched by the Federal Trade Commission, will likely spell doom to patent trolls, at least in their current incarnation. But then the obvious question is where they'll pop up next.
The Senate and House bills that would disarm patent trolls are only two of a flurry of bills that have been introduced in Congress in the last few weeks. The SHIELD (Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes) Act would force patent trolls to post a bond to cover defendants' legal costs. H.R. 2024 would end anonymous patents and increase transparency. S. 1013, the Patent Abuse Reduction Act, would change the way patent suits are filed and would require specific complaints as to what patents are being claimed. The Patent Litigation and Innovation Act (H.R. 2639) is a House bill that tracks closely with the Senate bill.