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.]

25 Comments

  1. P.S. FWIW, my intent is not to be an advocate for patent trolls. I just doubt that tort-reform type legislation is the answer. I’m just generally opposed to “loser pays” type “tort reform”.

    Tort reform ought to address changes/removal to existing laws, and limits on lawyers, judges nearly unlimited and arbitrary authority, and jury awards. I also think tort reform should address criminal charges against corporations found guilty of patent infringement of the sort in the intermittent wiper case. The companies involved clearly “stole” from the inventor.

    If we are gong to treat the legal fiction of the corporation as tho it has the same rights as a real person, then corporations have to be held liable to the same degree… including punishment for criminal activities. Put a few corporate leaders (or better yet, their legal representatives) in jail, and we might just see a stop to this sort of corporate misbehavior.

    Many have proposed a “time limit” restriction… produce a product with five years (or whatever) or lose the patent. But that would just make things more difficult for small guys as well. Big companies would refuse to deal with them, just wait them out, and then take the idea.

    However, if there were an additional time limit (say 15 to 20 years) before a corporation could utilize such a “lost” patent, then big companies would have incentive to deal with small guys rather than wait.

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