On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 325-91 to approve legislation aimed at patent trolls—firms that buy or license patents and attempt to extract licensing fees or file infringement lawsuits that have cost the economy billions of dollars.
Introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the legislation targets patent trolls for behavior such as failing to determine whether a business actually uses infringing technology before sending licensing demands.
“We have seen an exponential increase in the use of weak or poorly-granted patents by so-called patent trolls to file numerous patent infringement lawsuits against American businesses with the hopes of securing a quick payday,” Goodlatte said, according to Reuters.
The legislation would require companies alleging patent infringement to provide specific details of the claim, including each allegedly infringed feature, function or service, as well as the persona alleged to have infringed, the principal business of the party alleging infringement and whether the patent has been declared essential or could potentially be essential to any standard-setting body.
The bill would also allow the courts to award prevailing parties fees and expenses incurred as a result of a patent infringement lawsuit, unless the position of the nonprevailing party was justified. If a nonprevailing party is unable to pay fees and expenses, the court has the right to make them recoverable against any party joined in the action.
According to a 2012 study by Boston University, patent trolls and patent litigation costs American businesses $29 billion, SFGate reports.
Goodlatte’s bill has received support from Cisco Systems, Apple, International Business Machines Corp., Google and other major companies.
In June, the White House urged lawmakers to take steps to curb abusive patent lawsuits that have risen sharply in recent years, particularly in the technology sector, according to Reuters.