A few days ago, the Obama administration announced that they would be cracking down on patent abusers by making some changes to the US Patent and Trademark Office, as well as get the International Trade Commission involved to help fight against frivolous complaints by tech companies to get import bans on competitor products. Several lawmakers are joining the war as well, urging the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on patent trolls.
18 members of Congress sent a letter to FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez yesterday that urged her and the rest of the commission to investigate whether or not patent holders are abusing the system, and prosecute them if they are. The FTC has long been familiar with patent trolls, but they have not done much to really prevent it from happening.
The letter mentions a handful of lawsuits filed by patent trolls, including a company by the name of MPHJ Technology Investments, which had been threatening businesses in Vermont for years, claiming that these businesses were infringing on MPHJ’s patents. However, lawmakers note that MPHJ did little to actually confirm if the companies were actually infringing, and were simply trying to extort money out of them.
Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) are leading the pack for this FTC letter, and Chu says that “we can’t let patent trolls hide under the bridge any longer — we must expose them of their deceptive practices.” She continues by saying that “the FTC has a role to play in ensuring every American consumer is protected from those who use wrongful business practices to make a quick buck.”
Because patent trolling has been seen as a hinderance on the economy, Congress has been increasing its awareness for the practice. In fact, five patent reform bills have been drafted up so far, and we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more coming in as time goes on.