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New Bill to Fight Patent Trolls Introduced

NAB welcomes legislation and working with patent reform advocates

Radio group owners are fighting patent lawsuits on two fronts: HD Radio and studio music storage and automation.

Now, another bill has been introduced in Congress that, if passed, promises to curb abuse from so-called “trolls,” companies that buy patents intending to sue product or technology end-users.

Senator Leahy (D-Vt.), joined by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), introduced the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013. This bill will work to further patent quality and transparency, as well as implement new rules for patent demand letters that could curb the activity of patent assertion entities or “patent trolls,” they said.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith welcomed the action, saying patent trolls are a drain on the U.S. economy and the broadcast industry. “This legislation deters those entities that acquire patents primarily as a litigation tool while protecting the true innovators who keep our economy moving forward. We look forward to working with these lawmakers and other patent reform advocates on legislation that supports a sensible patent system.”

Advocacy group Public Knowledge, too, welcomed the legislation. Public Knowledge Director of Media Relations Bartees Cox said the bill shows there’s a general consensus growing on the Hill that demand letters, “when abusively asserted, negatively impact the economy, innovation, and consumers.” He characterized the bill as a “practical step” in reforming the patent system.