WASHINGTON Two Congressmen introduced a bill on Wednesday that would penalize companies that file frivolous patent infringement lawsuits, derided by critics as "patent trolls."
Representatives Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, and Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, sponsored the bill, which would ensure a company bringing a frivolous patent lawsuit would pay all the costs and attorney fees associated with the case.
"Patent trolls drained an estimated $29 billion from American innovators and companies in 2011," said DeFazio in a statement. "They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn't create and then suing companies from every industry for infringement."
Google Inc, Microsoft Corp, the Business Software Alliance, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Consumer Electronics Association all supported the proposed legislation.
Suzanne Michel, Google's senior patent counsel, said the search company supported the bill and noted that many of the lawsuits claim infringement of controversial software patents.
"Suits brought by trolls have quadrupled since 2005. They now account for 60 percent of all patent litigation," said Michel in a blog post. "The trolls' weapons of choice — used in 85 percent of their suits — are software patents, many of which are vague, over broad and invalid."
There is no Senate companion bill at this point for the House of Representatives action.
(Reporting By Diane Bartz. Editing by Andre Grenon)