WASHINGTON, July 30 Dozens of major U.S.
companies, including Morgan Stanley, Google,
Wal-Mart and Dell, on Tuesday urged lawmakers
to pass bills that they said would protect new products against
"extortive demands" on patents.
The abusive use of patent litigation has become an
increasing concern for companies, many of which have been hit by
lawsuits by firms known as "patent trolls" that buy intellectual
property and seek money from companies that may infringe on
In a letter to the top Democrats and Republicans on the
Senate and House of Representatives' Judiciary Committees, 44
companies urged support for bills that would broaden the power
of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review patents and
invalidate any that it determines should not have been granted.
Currently, the patent office can review business method
patents related to financial services more aggressively than
other patents. The proposed legislation would expand that
authority to include all business method patents.
The business method patents, many of which are also software
patents, are frequently used by "patent trolls" to file
The expanded program "would increase certainty for
innovators actually bringing new products to market, who now
face an increasing threat of extortive demands based on
low-quality patents," the companies said in a letter dated
They estimated that frivolous patent litigation cost
companies $29 billion in 2011, the most recent figures
Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, introduced the
Senate version of the bill in May, and California
Representatives Darrell Issa, a Republican, and Judy Chu, a
Democrat, launched a similar measure in the House this month.
No action has been taken on the legislation so far, but the
backing from major companies could help create momentum.
The White House urged Congress in June to take steps to curb
lawsuits by firms that make or sell nothing but specialize in
suing others for patent infringement.
Other signatories of the letter include Amazon,
Netflix, Newegg, Facebook, Eddie Bauer
LLC, Samsung Electronics America,
SurveyMonkey, Macy's and the Kroger Co.