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New Bill Aims to Quash Patent Trolls

Among other things, the bill shifts responsibility for cost of litigation onto the losing party

CEA President/CEO Gary Shapiro thanked Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn for targeting patent trolls.

Cornyn introduced the Patent Abuse Reduction Act this week. He says the measure aims to deter patent litigation abusers without prejudicing the rights of intellectual property holders.

So-called “patent trolls” saddle companies, especially tech companies, with expensive litigation, diverting resources away from research, development, wages and growth, says Cornyn. In fact, many tech companies settle such lawsuits without going to court because of the anticipated expense.

Radio’s been battling its own patent lawsuit for music automation playback and storage, we’ve reported.

Shapiro says the bill has a number of provisions to “help put the growing patent troll industry out of business,” like requiring “trolls to provide more specific information about the substance of their infringement assertions and clearly identify” who is bringing the lawsuit. The measure puts limits on discovery and requires parties to pay for their opponent’s additional discovery requests.

The bill shifts responsibility for cost of litigation onto the losing party. That alone, “will lessen patent trolls’ incentives to go to court with weak or flimsy claims,” says Shapiro.

The measure is similar to the Shield Act, co-sponsored in the House by Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio and Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, which requires certain plaintiffs to pay the defendant’s attorney fees and other legal costs if their patent lawsuit fails in court.