Patent trolls are companies that have patents with no intent to use them and simply seek to earn money by forcing other companies to pay licensing fees in court. Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), has introduced a bill designed to attack the business model used by patent trolls, and the bill has a chance of passing. Goodlatte’s bill has won backing from leadership in both parties and integrates ideas from similar bills introduced earlier.
The new bill integrates many of the ideas from previous patent reform bills that were introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John Cornyn (R-TX). It also integrates ideas from the SHIELD Act that was previously introduced. Lawyers from three industry groups, including the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge have all praised the bill even though it’s described that’s not perfect.
The bill seeks to force patent holders to lay out details of the infringement case early during a lawsuit. The bill also forces the loser in the patent suit pay all legal fees unless they’re able to show their case was “substantially justified.” Another change the bill proposes is an expansion of the program to allow the review of “business method” patents at the US patent and trademark office.
The bill also proposes a method of allowing customers or end-users of technology to stay a lawsuit while the patent battle rages in court. Many believe that this bill has the best chance of passing of any similar bill released so far. Even if passed, the bill wouldn’t put an end of patent trolling, but it would make a loss much more damaging to a patent troll and hopefully less attractive.
EFF attorney Julie Samuels said:
This will make [patent trolling] a less attractive business model and give those who want to fight back tools to do that.