U.S. lawmakers offer bill to curb patent lawsuits

WASHINGTON Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:47pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Monday to give companies another tool to fight lawsuits brought by companies that specialize in patent litigation.

Their bill would broaden the power of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review patents and verify that they should have been granted.

Currently, the patent office can review business method patents related to financial services more aggressively than other patents.

The bill - proposed by California Representatives Darrell Issa, a Republican, and Judy Chu, a Democrat - would expand that authority to include all business method patents, many of which are software patents that are frequently used by firms, often derided as "patent trolls," to file infringement lawsuits.

The bill is similar to one introduced in May by Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat. Action has not yet been taken on Schumer's bill.

Cisco Systems Inc, Apple Inc, Google Inc and other technology powerhouses have been pushing for legislation that would reduce the number of times each year that they are sued for infringement by a "non-practicing entity," a company that licenses patents as its business. Google has estimated the cost of such litigation to the U.S. economy at $30 billion a year.

The White House in June urged Congress to take steps to curb lawsuits by firms that make or sell nothing but specialize in suing others for patent infringement, and there are other proposals circulating on Capitol Hill.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, and Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, have released a discussion draft of a bill aimed at stopping frivolous patent litigation.

And Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, has introduced legislation aimed at hurting so-called trolls by allowing judges to force such firms to pay the legal fees of companies they unsuccessfully sue.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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Comments (3)
AlkalineState wrote:
This seems like a better approach. The problem clearly lies with the patents themselves, not with the protection of the patents. Why are they being issued at all if they are too broad?

Jul 22, 2013 5:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Speaker2 wrote:
@AlkalineState the basic problem is too few patent examiners and a huge patent backlog. Many times, the examiner will do a quick search for prior art and based on the claims, issue a patent. The problem actually cuts two ways.

I have had first office responses from examiners on my patents where the examiner completely misunderstood the patent concept and confused the concept with other completely different technologies. This means I have to respond to the first office response, appeal to a higher board or file a continuation, all of this resulting in higher IP development cost and delays. Most of my IP is in solar, the average time to get a response from an examiner is 3.5 years. My latest patent was filed in 2006 and issued at the beginning of 2013.

One of my concerns, big companies like Apple, IBM, Intel hate small inventors, so while there are patent trolls, you have big companies who will force a lawsuit, knowing many companies cannot afford the 2-5 million dollars in legal fees a typical IP lawsuit cost.

Jul 22, 2013 7:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Gigimoderate wrote:
Issa……..really, anything his name is attached to whether its a bill or a investigation, watch his campaign contributions. He should be investigated. He is one of the most corrupt Politicians in Washington.

Jul 22, 2013 9:21pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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