SEMA eNews Vol. 16, No. 48, November 28, 2013

U.S. House Committee Approves Bill to Combat Patent Trolls

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The House Judiciary Committee approved a SEMA-supported bill (HR 3309) to address patent troll litigation. The bipartisan vote was 33–5. At issue are frivolous lawsuits asserting that a company or individual is infringing a patent. The entity making the assertion is usually seeking licensing fees but not actually manufacturing a product or supplying services. The allegations are frequently associated with common technologies or business practices rather than a single patent. The lawsuits have exploded in recent years costing small and large businesses billions of dollars. Many companies have settled rather than fighting the cases, allowing the patent trolls to secure funds to pursue other parties.

In a separate action, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched a study to address the problem. Among other actions, the FTC might recommend that specific allegations be included in so-called demand letters that patent holders send to alleged infringers in order to create a public database and improve transparency of the allegations being pursued.

For more information, please contact Stuart Gosswein at stuartg@sema.org.

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