Regulatory changes

Rep. Goodlatte introduces Innovation Act to combat patent trolls

Bob Goodlatte

Bob Goodlatte

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced last week the bipartisan Innovation Act, which would attack the growing patent troll problem.

The bill would target the areas of the legal system most abused by patent trolls, including the threshold for bringing a complaint, the cost for individuals defending against the suit and the liability and transparency of the party bringing the suit, Slate reports.

The party filing suit for infringement would have to identify specifically which parts of a patent have been violated, thereby eliminating the ability of plaintiffs to make general statements accusing the defendant of violating several parts of a patent.

The legislation would also create a fee-shifting arrangement that would result in some fees being shifted onto the “non-prevailing party,” though if the court finds the case was justified, it can make an exception, according to Slate.

Additionally, the bill also limits discovery—the process requiring parties to disclose information to one another if it is relevant to the case—while a judge examines the meaning of certain terms in a patent claim, thereby delaying a patent troll’s ability to go on a discovery offensive and providing the defense a greater opportunity to have the case dismissed.

The National Retail Federation expressed support for the legislation, saying that patent trolls account for 50 percent of all patent lawsuits in the U.S., which cost the economy billions of dollars every year. The organization said suits that discourage innovation and adoption overload the court system, increase costs for retailers and prices for consumers.

“Addressing and combating the rise of patent trolls is a top priority for retailers, and the introduction of this bill shows that it is a growing congressional priority as well,” the NRF said. “NRF welcomes continued congressional attention to patent troll abuse, and looks forward to working with policymakers to bring the issue under control.”

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