Legislation

Hundreds of groups express support for patent reform legislation

PatentedMore than 400 organizations wrote to lawmakers on Wednesday expressing support for patent reform legislation aimed at discouraging patent trolls and reducing patent litigation.

The letter was sent ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on a bill—the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act, S. 1720– that was slated for markup on Wednesday, but the vote has since been delayed.

“Today, abusive patent litigation is killing small companies, chilling employment and growth of all companies, and stifling the economies of a wide range of industries nationwide,” the letter said. “Instead of investing in new jobs and services, businesses must fight frivolous claims and overly broad lawsuits made by patent trolls against a range of technologies and commonplace ideas.”

The legislation before the Senate committee—introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)—seeks to improve patent transparency by requiring a patentee who has filed a lawsuit alleging infringement to disclose any financial or other interests that could be affected by the outcome of the case.

It would also allow the FTC to exercise enforcement authority in the areas of bad-faith demand letters, a practice that would be deemed “unfair and deceptive,” in which the recipients are alleged to have infringed a patent and owe compensation.

Additionally, the legislation would also direct courts to stay cases against individuals or companies sued for patent infringement while the manufacturer litigates the lawsuit.

“We urge you to reject suggestions that requiring transparency, fairness and good faith dealing in patent assertions and litigation undermines the American patent system in any way,” the letter, signed by trade groups, retailers and technology providers, said. “We urge you to dismiss the complaints and assertions of those who, despite years of study and months of discussion and negotiation, still downplay the gravity of the problem facing our industries. Those who use and benefit from the patent system should support these common-sense, urgently needed solutions to the distortion of that system.”

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