US Bill Proposed to Clamp Down on Patent Trolls

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Two US politicians have introduced a bill that if passed they say would protect downstream users of technology from abusive and costly patent litigation.

U.S. Congressmen Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Hakeem Jeffries (D- NY) said that the end users of technology, such as consumers and businesses have become victims of a dramatic increase in abusive lawsuits brought on by patent assertion entities, commonly known as "patent trolls."

Patent trolls aggressively seek out end users and threaten to sue them if they don't pay a licensing fee for goods they bought off the shelf. They exist for the sole purpose of lawsuits and financial gain.

"Americans need to know they are safe from abusive litigation when they buy a product off the shelf and use it for its intended purpose," said Congressman Farenthold. "The solutions proposed in this bill will deter patent trolls without impeding the rights of responsible intellectual property holders."

They said that the proposed legislation modernizes the USA's patent litigation system. Through heightened pleading requirements, this bill adds transparency and legitimacy to the thousands of cease and desist letters sent out by patent trolls.

Additionally, the Patent Litigation and Innovation Act of 2013 will provide a reliable method for joining manufacturers and customers to the appropriate litigation.

"The legislation is designed to provide a constructive framework for patent infringement cases to proceed while minimizing the problem of abusive litigation. The explosion of patent troll activity diverts resources away from research and development, hinders innovation and stifles entrepreneurship. The civil litigation system is critical to our democracy. In this instance, Congress must prevent it from being abused," said Congressman Jeffries.

Protecting end users from patent troll litigation abuse is an idea with bipartisan, bicameral support, and was recently endorsed by the White House Task Forces on High-Tech Patent Issues.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association commented that "This legislation will allow legitimate companies to protect their patents, while discouraging abusive litigation."

"A well-functioning patent system is key to a modern economy. It is Congress' job to ensure that the patent system promotes innovation and is not used as a vehicle for legalized extortion."

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