New U.S. House ‘anti-troll’ bill would force patent trolls to pay defendants’ legal bills

“A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives attempts to deter frivolous patent litigation by forcing unsuccessful patent plaintiffs to cover defendants’ legal costs,” Timothy B. Lee reports for Ars Technica.

“Introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act is limited to patents related to computer hardware and software,” Lee reports. “‘Patent trolls don’t create new technology and they don’t create American jobs,’ DeFazio said in a news release. ‘They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn’t create and then suing the innovators who did the hard work and created the product.'”

“While DeFazio portrays the SHIELD Act as anti-troll legislation, its provisions don’t seem to be limited to non-practicing entities. Any plantiff who a court finds ‘did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding’ could be on the hook for his opponent’s legal bills, regardless of whether the plaintiff is using the technology in question,” Lee reports. “‘The SHIELD Act ensures that American tech companies can continue to create jobs, rather than waste resources on fending off frivolous lawsuits,’ Chaffetz said. ‘A single lawsuit, which may easily cost over $1 million if it goes to trial, can spell the end of a tech startup and the jobs that it could have created.'”

Lee reports, The legislation won kudos from Julie Samuels, the attorney who is spearheading the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Defend Innovation project. ‘We support policies and legislation that treat software differently,’ she wrote. ‘Fee shifting would empower innovators to fight back, while discouraging trolls from threatening lawsuits to start.'”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bring it on.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]


  1. Oh dear, looks like Nathan Myrvold & Paul Allen will be going out of business soon.

    On a side note, if the Android handset manufacturers refuse to pay a licensing fee to Microsoft, and forces Microsoft to go to court to enforce their IP, will this be considered trolling?

    1. Indeed a don al fronts as they ALL do it and Apple is no exception. Invent, create, innovate and protect what is rightfully yours and NOT something you modify to make it look like you own it.

    1. Only if you consider the patent troll companies “small business”, which I guess technically, they are. But I think you are stretching reality to the limit of recognition to do so.

  2. “Introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)”…

    About time. This is good news and what we (citizen/taxpayers) send people to the Congress to do- accomplish something to better our nation. This in contrast to the typical political posturing that seems to be the status quo.

  3. And thankfully it has bi-partisan support. This is an era when if one party championed the protection of apple pie, there is a certain other party which would aver apple pie doesn’t need protection, and that moreover, apple pie doesn’t exist.

  4. These two legislators are obviously not attorneys. Or if they are, they are now officially persona non grata at the next golf outing sponsored by Dewey, Cheatem and Howe.

  5. Same thing should happen in all lawsuits. The loser should pay all court costs and the other lawyer. That would stop frivolous lawsuits and put a lot of shyster lawyers out of business. Don’t expect it to happen though, because the trial lawyers are in bed with congressmen/women.

    1. Think that through a little further. Any loss? Then high-priced lawyers who win have no limit to what they can charge their client because it’ll be the other guy who ends up paying their fee. Suppose you’re an average joe and can’t afford a high-priced firm to represent you, so this firm doesn’t have the breadth and depth of resources, like associates searching through case law, others prepping the jury, whatever. You end up losing not necessarily on the merits of the case but because the other side, soon to be at your expense, out lawyered your counsel. Still liking this idea?

  6. Better approach: If a patent is 10 years old and you or a licensee are not shipping product that embodies the technology, the patent reverts to the public domain and anyone can use it for free. That would keep rich oil companies from buying the patents to advanced battery technology and burying them to keep America oil dependent. (Chevron and large-format NiMH batteries)

  7. Typical political response to an issue: don’t fix a problem (the patent system flaws)… pass legislation (that doesn’t actually address the flaws that cause problems).

    We (the general public) don’t need a law that makes it more difficult to exert a basic right; legal redress in the courts.

    This law will have a chilling effect on small guys. The following… “Any plantiff who a court finds ‘did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding’ could be on the hook for his opponent’s legal bills…” is pretty much aimed directly at them because small guys inherently don’t have a “reasonable likelihood of succeeding”.

    Remember that guy who developed intermittent windshield wipers, what happened to him, and his eventual vindication? Well, under legislation like this, that never would have happened, and his great, great, great grandchildren would still be paying his estate’s lawyer bills.

    The patent problems aren’t as simple as this “solution” would have us believe. The results will not be what most think they will be. If anything, the Law of Unintended Consequences guarantees they won’t, and it ought to make every citizen question accepting any state “solution” to some perceived problem.

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