Congress continues to explore ways to address the explosion of flimsy patent litigation claims by so-called non-practicing entities. On December 5, 2013, the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309) was approved by the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 325-91 margin. The bill requires specific disclosures in any patent infringement claim that reveal analysis of the accused devices or systems as part of heightened pleading standards.
If passed, the Innovation Act will implement fee-shifting provisions that require a showing by plaintiff that its claims were justified to avoid imposition of attorneys’ fees for losing the case. The bill also addresses issues concerning joinder, discovery, stays of customer suits, and post-grant review of business method patents.
The bill increases transparency concerning parties alleging infringement. Any patent infringement complaint must disclose the principal business of such parties, as well as the identity of any person known to the party alleging infringement who fits either of the following criteria:
The person owns or co-owns an identified patent or is the assignee of, or an exclusive licensee to, such patent.
The person has a legal or financial right to enforce an identified patent.
H.R. 3309 moves on to the Senate, where Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has introduced a similar bill (S. 1720). Businesses both small and large, and patent reform advocates alike, are applauding this effort to build on reforms achieved last year through the America Invents Act.