Coalition Asks US Congress For Action On “Patent Trolls”

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By Kelly Burke for Intellectual Property Watch

In an open letter to the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee today (27 February), a coalition of agencies, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators, urged Congress to take action against “patent trolls, non-practicing patent-holding entities.

“Congress should consider measures that shift incentives away from those who game the system and toward an innovative economy and competitive market,” the letter stated [pdf].

The group, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), cited comments made by President Obama earlier this month, who said that so-called “patent trolls” are “essentially trying to leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them” (IPW, IP-Watch Briefs, 15 February 2013).

The letter also expressed support for the “Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes” (SHIELD) Act. The bill, introduced by Reps. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, and Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, would require plaintiffs to pay for the defendant’s attorney fees and other legal costs if their patent lawsuit fails in court. The bill has been applauded by many as a significant step in deterring non-practicing patent-holding entities from pursuing litigation.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, expressed his support for SHIELD in a statement today: “If we want to build American businesses and create jobs, we need to change the law that encourages baseless but disruptive legal threats for American businesses. Today’s law encourages unethical patent trolls, and we stand with President Obama and the authors of the SHIELD Act to get it changed. We urge Congress to pass the SHIELD Act as soon as possible.”

The release from EFF is available here.

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