Industry Groups Urge Congress To Boost Arsenal Against Patent TrollsPublished on 2 November 2013 @ 7:28 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By Caitlin McGivern for Intellectual Property Watch
A growing list of US industries has sent a letter to the leaders of the US House of Representatives and Senate judiciary committees urging them to combat patent assertion entities (PAEs), also known as patent trolls.
The list of signatories includes the Computer & Communications Industry Association, National Retail Federation, National Grocers Association, American Gaming Association, Printing Industries of America and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
They argue that PAEs “[exploit] the patent system for financial gain to the detriment of innovation” and are a huge financial drain on American businesses. They also assert that proving the invalidity of a PAE’s patent through litigation is hugely time-consuming and costly.
The signatories state that there needs to be an effective alternative to litigation to challenge PAEs’ patents. The letter discusses the Covered Business Method (CBM) review program, which provides a less expensive means of challenging PAEs’ patents.
Under the programme, once a patent is invalidated at the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), it is removed from the system and can no longer be used to target other businesses. A crucial aspect of this review is that smaller businesses are able to pool their resources in order to pay to have a PAE’s patent reviewed.
The letter asks that the patent reform legislation before Congress include provisions to make the CBM review programme available to more industries. Currently, it is only available for “financial services” patents, which means that most of the patents used by PAEs are not eligible for review under the programme.
The White House and the USPTO have already expressed their support for expanding CBM review, and the signatories “strongly urge” the House and Senate Judiciary leaders to do the same.