In this year of partisan gridlock, there have been precious few issues that enjoyed broad bi-partisan support. Patent troll reform has been one of them – until now. With word out today that the Senate has set aside their effort on patent troll reform, gridlock has succumbed another victim. This time, the victims are businesses across the country who are being extorted by patent trolls.
As the President has explained in calling for reform, patent trolling is a litigation abuse play. “Trolls” are shell companies that buy dormant patents, wait for others to independently develop new technology, and then accuse them of infringing on their patents. They strategically price settlement demands below the cost of defending the claim, knowing many companies will pay them to go away, rather than defend the rights to their own inventions. The Progressive Policy Institute published a paper titled, Stumping Patent Trolls on the Bridge to Innovation in October 2013 making the case for why these reforms are needed.
When the President called for targeted litigation reforms and the House obliged with a bi-partisan bill that passed 325 to 91 at the end of last year, hopes were high that the Senate could get something done. We commend Senators on the Judiciary Committee and their staffs for spending so much time and energy on this issue. We urge them not to give up or be distracted by issues irrelevant to patent litigation. The stakes are too high for too many people.