PATENT TROLLS: Leahy Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Protect VT Businesses From Patent Lawsuit Abuse

WASHINGTON  -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Committee member Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) joined together Monday to introduce legislation to protect businesses and innovators who are being improperly targeted by so-called “patent trolls.”

The Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 would increase transparency in patent ownership, customers who are sued for patent infringement by allowing the case against them to be stayed while the manufacturer litigates the suit, target the widespread sending of frivolous demand letters, and improve resources for small businesses that are targeted in patent infringement suits, among other provisions.  Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is an original cosponsor of the bill.

“America’s patent system is the envy of the world, but unfortunately some bad actors are misusing the system to sue unsuspecting consumers or extort monetary settlements by making misleading demands,” Leahy said.  “When small businesses in Vermont and across the country are threatened with lawsuits for offering wi-fi to their customers or using document scanners in their offices, we can all agree the system is not being used as intended.  The bipartisan legislation I am introducing today takes important steps to protect those who are targeted by patent trolls while preserving what has made America’s patent system great.”

Jerry Tarrant, the chief operating officer of Winooski, Vt.-based MyWebGrocer, said today’s bill introduction “is a great example of our elected leaders working together to make small changes in federal law that will foster innovation and job creation across the country.”

“As a Vermont based company, we and our coalition members appreciate Senator Leahy’s willingness to listen to our concerns and be one of the leaders in D.C. on this issue,” Tarrant said.

Leahy previously announced his intent to introduce legislation on this issue and his collaboration with Senator Lee and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in an op-ed published earlier this year.  Leahy has also pressed the Administration to assist in addressing the problem of patent trolls, urging the Federal Trade Commission in June to more aggressively pursue enforcement actions against patent trolls using its consumer protection authority.  Leahy’s efforts were praised in an op-ed that ran Sunday in the Valley News.

An outline of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 can be found here, and text of legislation can be found online.

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