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Anti-Patent ‘Troll’ Bill Passes House Committee

Measure would put onus on plaintiff to specify what patents are at issue

The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill to curb patent abuse by so-called “trolls,” companies that buy patents, not to make anything, but to sue end-users.

Radio groups are fighting two such lawsuits: one for music storage and automation and a more recent suit involving In-Band, On-Channel digital radio technology.

The committee sent to the full House the Innovation Act of 2013. Sponsored by Committee Chair Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte, the bill seeks to curb vague “demand” letters trolls send to end-users that place the burden on users to prove they’re not infringing on a patent, rather than on the sender to prove they are.

Among other things, the bill requires lawsuit plaintiffs, in other words, the trolls, to specify which patents are at issue and what products allegedly infringe. The Innovation Act also allows a court to require the loser in a patent case to pay the winner’s costs if the case was not reasonably justified.

Consumer Electronics Association President/CEO Gary Shapiro said the action “marks progress in the fight against the patent trolls who extort cash from innovative job creating companies.”

“Now we must keep up the momentum. Every day that the ‘patent troll’ issue is not addressed is another day that bad actors can abuse our patent system to extort money from legitimate companies,” said Shapiro, who urged the House to take up the measure.