On March 20, 2014, Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill in an attempt to limit the ability of non-practicing entities (NPE) – also commonly referred to as “patent trolls” – to file claims demanding patent licensing payments. Wisconsin Senate Bill 498 applies to all patent owners who wish to file patent infringement claims, but provides exceptions for institutions of higher learning; federally funded health care or research institutions with annual expenditures over $10 million; and owners of certain food, drug or biological product patents.
The bill requires that any notification seeking to enforce a patent must include comprehensive patent information, including detailed facts forming the basis for the infringement allegations and an identification of any pending or completed court or administrative proceeding related to each asserted patent. After a 30-day period to cure any defects in the demand, the bill authorizes the Attorney General to file an injunction and to recover a forfeiture of up to $50,000 per violation. The court is also given discretion to award compensatory damages to any person for losses suffered as a result of the violation. Additionally, the bill allows private parties to recover punitive damages up to $50,000. The full text of the bill is available here.
Vermont and Oregon also recently passed legislation in an attempt to curb “patent troll” litigation, while many other states are considering enacting similar laws.