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New Patent Reform Coalition Forms

Public Knowledge praises new group

Several industry representatives have joined together to form United for Patent Reform. Members span multiple sectors, including technology, retail, restaurant and realty.

This new coalition says it seeks to “take back a patent system held hostage by patent trolls [to] return it to its original purpose: fostering innovation and investment that benefits the entire American economy.”

“Instead of creating new jobs and investing in new technologies, businesses large and small across many industries — from national realty, construction and technology businesses to Main Street retail shops, hotels, grocers, convenience stores and restaurants — continue to be forced to divert scarce resources to fighting frivolous lawsuits and overly broad claims made by Patent Assertion Entities, or ‘patent trolls,’” says National Retail Federation President/CEO Matthew Shay. “This must change.”

The announcement comes as the 114th Congress prepares to take up patent reform as a top issue in both the House and Senate; such legislation stalled last year.

The issue is of importance to radio, with patent trolls filing IP infringement lawsuits against podcasters, and against broadcasters who use music storage and automation software as well as HD Radio technology.

The group, which calls itself a “super-coalition” supports requiring so-called “patent assertion entities,” companies that buy patents and then sue users, to be more specific in their patent demand letters about who they are and explain specifically how a patent has been infringed. Other reforms would make patent litigation more efficient so that weak cases can be dismissed before the expensive discovery process begins and require the losing party who brings a frivolous case to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees.

“Individual consumers, just like small businesses, lack the resources and expertise to defend themselves against abusive patent assertion,” says Charles Duan, director of the Patent Reform Project for consumer interest group Public Knowledge.

“We are pleased to see UPR taking a strong position on consumer-centric patent reforms such as preventing abusive demand letters and protecting customers of off-the-shelf technologies,” Duan continues.

Patent Reform Is Senate Priority in 2015