Patent trolls come under attack

Silicon Valley and other tech-industry companies are turning to Washington to curb patent trolls, according to a report by Michelle Quinn in Politico. The effort comes despite tech lobbyists' concerns that Congress wouldn't revisit the topic so soon after passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act in 2011. That act switches the US patent rights from a “first to invent” to a “first inventor to file” system and expands the definition of prior art.

In Politico, Quinn quotes Matt Tanielian, director of the Coalition for Patent Fairness, as saying, “It’s very encouraging to see the level of discussion, the number of bills and the energy and momentum that has come into this debate. The problem has become much larger, impacting a much bigger part of the economy, and it’s ripe for some solution.” His organization represents tech companies including Google, Cisco, and Intel. Quinn notes that tech companies have been joined by businesses ranging from retailers to realtors.

Legislation under consideration includes the Shield Act, which would require losing plaintiffs to pay legal fees for successful defendants.

Quinn quotes an aid to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as saying, “The breadth of types of industries that are concerned about being hit by troll suits has created a lot of momentum. You have retailers, restaurants, hotels, advertisers, and printers who were not part of the last debates yet are being hit by suits. That changes the dynamic.”

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