House Passes Innovation Act, Hopes To Stop Patent Trolls

    December 5, 2013
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

I think that we can all agree that patent trolls are just about the worst. Even if you have no stake in the tech sector, frivolous litigation aiming to make a quick buck off of somebody else’s innovation hurts consumers in more ways than one. After years of ignoring the problem, it looks like Congress is finally starting to notice the ill effects as well.

The Hill reports that the House has overwhelmingly passed the Innovation Act today in a 325-91 vote. The bill targets those who have come to be known as “patent trolls.” It does this by creating a whole new set of hoops that those seeking to file a patent suit would have to jump through. Before passing the final bill, the House voted to pass an amendment that would increase the number of hoops.

To further dissuade individuals and companies from filing frivolous lawsuits, the legislation would also require courts to award fees to the winner. This is called the “loser pays” provision, and it’s set up to stop a common tactic used by patent trolls that seeks to not win a lawsuit, but simply force the defendant into bankruptcy through attorney fees and related charges. Under this provision, defendants no longer have to worry as much about money when challenging a patent claim.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, said its passage helps to correct a patent system that was never meant to be used in such a way:

“The tens of billions of dollars spent on settlements and litigation expenses associated with abusive patent suits represent truly wasted capital. The patent system was never intended to be a playground for litigation extortion and frivolous claims.”

As expected, the bill did have some opponents though. One of the most outspoken – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher – argued that the bill would hurt small inventors defending their patents from large companies. She also holds the belief that the term “patent troll” was invented by large companies to smear small patent holders.

While it’s impossible to say that small patent holders will be completely immune to ill effects from the legislation, it’s important to note that this legislation is primarily aimed at protecting these small patent holders. The legislation protects the defendant which is usually the small patent holder, not the other way around.

As a compromise, the House passed an amendment that will study the effects of the legislation on small and minority-owned businesses. If disturbing trends of abuse come to light, Congress can come back to reevaluate the legislation.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves though. The legislation has only just passed the House and now it has to make its way through the Senate. Thankfully, the Obama administration has stated its support for the bill in the past which should make its passage through the Democrat-controlled Senate rather painless.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]

  • http://www.seventhman.com/ Shaleen Shah

    This is a breath of fresh air for real inventors and innovators out and let’s all hope that it make its way through the Senate. I guess, the days of these patent trolls are numbered. There may be inconveniences, but the pros outweigh the cons.

  • Reality

    The reality is this will crush the small inventor. I don’t know how many of you have even seen what happens in the patent office at major corporations. They will steal anything from anyone. All of this will hurt the small inventor. Face it America, politicians are in bed with Corporations. Major corporations don’t spend millions on lobbyists for nothing.

    Courts don’t work the way the average American thinks. Why do you think so many people plead guilty? It is not out of guilt — I assure you. Its because states and corporations know to delay delay delay. It raises all the stakes and people fold out of intimidation.

    Essentially, what this did is shut out the small inventor and if a corporation steals the small inventors idea, well then they have no real recourse. The corporations will just stall in court and make the court costs so high that the small inventor will fold.

    Bravo Congress. It is ironic how CNN and CBS just did major stories on the “Do Nothing” congress. Well, apparently they are doing something — sticking it to the small guy.

  • Larry S. Jackson

    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a right wing extremist who denies climate change and voted to impeach Clinton. He’s never been know as an advocate for small business, which is probably why he opposes the bill.

  • Jon

    As is so often the case Zach fails to write in a manner suitable for an international audience.

    Arrogant way of writing to an international audience “The house” – “congress”

    Non-arrogant way of writing to an international audince “The US House…” the “US congress”

    Webpronews should make up its damn mind if it is intended exclusively for a US audience – if not then its about time they educated their writers how to write for an international audience in a manner that does not irritate or imply US arrogance.

    It is not necessary to say “the US congress” throughout, most readers will accept the first reference to be properly qualified and then repeat occurances can simply say “congress”.

    Fed up with this arrogance and ignorance – webpronews please make a decision and then action it