On May 15, draft “anti-patent-troll” legislation was put forward in Washington. This is part of a ground swell of opposition to illegitimate patent demand letters from so-called patent assertion entities (PAEs), or “patent trolls”. This draft legislation, according to the sponsor of the proposed bill, “increases transparency and accountability to help expose and prevent fraudulent infringement claims. It would require patent demand letters to include certain basic information to help companies determine whether a letter is legitimate.”
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This proposed law approaches the issue from a consumer protection angle, using Federal Trade Commission (FTC) authority and state Attorney General authority for enforcement.
Another anti-patent-troll bill passed by the US House in 2013 is now stalled in the Senate. Congress may be stalled but the fact that patents are within federal jurisdiction has not prevented state legislatures from passing consumer-protection laws which target PAEs. I attended a lunch yesterday at which the Attorney General of Vermont spoke about his state’s efforts to deploy state-level consumer protection laws against PAEs. A case involving a well-known PAE by the name of MPHJ Technology is currently before the Vermont courts. The debates and the legislative responses are far from over.
Do we need anti-patent troll laws in Canada?