WASHINGTON - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Committee member Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) joined together Monday to introduce legislation to protect businesses and innovators who are being improperly targeted by patent trolls.
The Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 would increase transparency in patent ownership, protect customers who are sued for patent infringement by allowing the case against them to be stayed while the manufacturer litigates the suit, target the widespread sending of frivolous demand letters, and improve resources for small businesses that are targeted in patent infringement suits, among other provisions. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is an original cosponsor of the bill.
“America’s patent system is the envy of the world, but unfortunately some bad actors are misusing the system to sue unsuspecting consumers or extort monetary settlements by making misleading demands,” Leahy said. “When small businesses in Vermont and across the country are threatened with lawsuits for offering wi-fi to their customers or using document scanners in their offices, we can all agree the system is not being used as intended. The bipartisan legislation I am introducing today takes important steps to protect those who are targeted by patent trolls while preserving what has made America’s patent system great.”
Leahy added: “I thank Senator Lee and Senator Whitehouse for joining me in this effort and I applaud Chairman Goodlatte and members from both parties who are working to address this problem. I look forward to working through the Committee process with other Senatorsto develop effective legislation that will help innovators and inventors succeed.”
“Congress has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that our system of intellectual property ‘promote[s] the progress of science and the useful arts.’ Our patent system must protect legitimate property rights and encourage innovation,” Lee said. “Recently, we have seen increased abuse of the patent system in a way that actually discourages innovation and growth of the economy. This legislation, together with other proposals introduced by members of the Judiciary Committee, will restore the proper balance to the patent system.”
Leahy and Lee previously announced their intent to introduce legislation on this issue and their collaboration with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in an op-ed published earlier this year. Leahy has also pressed the Administration to assist in addressing the problem of patent trolls, urging the Federal Trade Commission in June to more aggressively pursue enforcement actions against patent trolls using its consumer protection authority.
An outline of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 can be found here, and text of thelegislation can be found online.