SHIELD Act Is A Patent Troll’s Worst Nightmare

    August 2, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

I think we all agree that something has to be done about patent trolls. The patent system that they abuse is broken and it does nothing to better the economy. In fact, recent studies say patent trolls actually cost the economy about $29 billion in 2011. What’s a country with crappy patent laws to do? Pass a bill that would define software patents and punish the trolls that seek to abuse them.

Thankfully, that bill is now a reality. Introduced in the House, Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah have introduced the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (or SHIELD) Act. The bill is specifically aimed at defining software patents. It’s a must since our own patent system hasn’t been updated since 1952 and all patent disputes are argued with these outdated laws.

So what does the SHIELD Act specifically accomplish? First and foremost, it seeks to define what a software patent is. As was mentioned, the legal understanding of a software patent is based on an outdated law from 1952. The SHIELD Act aims to define a software patent as “any process that could be implemented in a computer regardless of whether a computer is specifically mentioned in the patent.” On that note, it also defines a computer as “an electronic, mangnetic, optical, electrochemical, or other high speed data processing device performing logical, arithmetic, or storage functions.”

As Ars Technica points out, the SHIELD Act only attempts to define the software patent. It doesn’t endorse the software patent since many people feel that software shouldn’t be patented. This opens the door for a later act that would outright abolish the software patent. In the meantime, this definition does well to protect software manufacturers from outlandish software patent suits that aren’t really software.

In a statement, Rep. DeFazio says that his legislation “would force patent trolls to take financial responsibility for their frivolous lawsuits.” The SHIELD Act does just that and it’s the best part of the bill. If a patent troll is found to be filing a frivolous lawsuit that they had no hope of winning, they will be on tap to pay the defendant’s legal fees. It would make patent trolls think twice before bringing a lawsuit. The current system makes sure that they don’t owe a cent even if they lose the case.

The SHIELD Act is the best shot we have at reforming the patent system. In its current state, it’s hopelessly broken. While it doesn’t fix everything that’s wrong with our current patent system, it’s a start that could lead to more legislation that would fix everything else. We might be able to even put an end to the silly wars between Apple and Samsung.

You can read the full text of the proposed bill at the EFF’s Web site. Here’s hoping it actually gets somewhere in this election year.

  • http://www.hiretheworld.com Steven

    Another problem with patent trolls is that the very term is not clearly defined. The issue only stands as urgent with only those who have already been victimized. Read this article for more information: http://www.hiretheworld.com/blog/employers/business-news/protecting-your-intellectual-property-from-patent-trolls#more-2753

  • Patentee

    I’m sorry but your are a bit misleading.

    Have you heard about the AIA? It is the significant patent reform that occurred just last year. So how can you state that: “It’s a must since our own patent system hasn’t been updated since 1952 and all patent disputes are argued with these outdated laws.”

  • Michael R. Thomas

    This legislation is set up all wrong. They want to discourage suits by doubling legal costs to the looser. They need to look at the companys ability to pay if there small and wait until they have income to afford lisencing. Calling the inventorsr legal partner relationship a troll instead of legal patrollers enforcing a legal right is misleading. What they are really doing is escalating the big business money monopalie to shut down patenting at all and starving the small inventor out of business without patroller income he is bankrupted for his conception efforts

  • Michael R. Thomas

    The article forgets to total the losses to the economy from inventor retartive legislations like this and america invents act. 40 methods of cheating the inventor and adding new ones every day to completely shut the economic engine that ive been stoking since 1954. Five recessions the great depression ive single handedly invented our way out of with the top 10000 inventions in history still without compensation or recognition

  • Michael R. Thomas

    I think we need to eliminate patent trolls definately. But the only way to do that is legislation to stop them from infringing and they want to steal whatever they can from inventors. That means If the inventor is indegent we need court ordered contributations into court supervised accounts and orders for protection payments from violent infringers and non allowance of infringers to partisipate in legitimate business operations

  • Michael R. Thomas

    The real large scale damages are from infringers thefts of intellectual property usages and the retartive filing effects from the hopelessness of the inventor monitizing his invention with these infringers big money buying of justice