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Proposed Bill to Fight Patent Trolls Overwhelmingly Passed by the House of Representatives

You might not  be familiar with the Innovation Act that is currently making the rounds in Washington D.C., but you might want to keep an eye on it now. Today, the bill brought to the floor by Rep. Bob Goodlatte from Virginia was passed by a wide margin of 325 to 91. This bill is aimed squarely at keeping the “patent trolls” from bringing frivolous suits against big tech companies, and it seems to have a lot of support. 

The bill aims to change a few key things that make it easy for smaller companies to bring suits against companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft. Under this bill, if a patent suit is filed, the company filing the complaint must provide more information about the patent in question and how it is being infringed upon. If the company that brings the suit loses, this bill makes them pay the court and lawyer fees, which can be upwards of millions of dollars, if the suit was “not reasonably justified under the law.” Basically if a troll brings a company to suit to try and scare them into licensing deals, they could have to pay all the court fees if they lose the case.

There are a list of other additions and changes to the existing patent system, but nothing too major. There is some opposition to this bill from sources like National Small Business Association, who argue that this bill would make it hard for smaller companies with reasonable patent complaints to get their voices heard. Luckily for them this bill still has long road before becoming a law.

Is this the type of change to the patent system you were hoping to see? Anything you think they missed?

Via: The Verge
  • thajack

    I live in Goodlatte’s district and can’t stand him. He strongly supported SOPA and PIPA.

  • yujing176
  • Michael Little

    Anyone who thinks Harry Reid is going to bring this to the senate floor is smoking crack.

    • BMC123

      He hasn’t brought anything else to the floor so why start now?

      • michael arazan

        Republicans have blocked anything making it to the senate floor

        • Capt America

          Good. Big government is the problem that got us in the mess we are in. The less government the better. This country has gone down the tubes. 99% of politicians are crooks. Too bad they couldn’t block that disaster called Obumacare. That will be taken care of in the next election.

  • Craig Trunzo

    I don’t see this helping.

    I’d imagine a “Troll Company” could just create a standalone entity company for each patent it owns. That company can then sue Google for infringement of there “Look at device with both eyes to see content” patent. When they are laughed out of court and ordered to pay Google’s 1 hour legal bill of $23,857,923,897,923, they can just declare bankruptcy of that one buissiness and not pay a dime.

  • skins

    I was hoping this post was going to be about stopping large companies from patenting vague and non-innovative things.

  • skins

    How is this a good thing?

    This helps big business.

    This doesn’t help the consumer/us.
    It doesn’t help patent wars between big companies.

    This just helps big companies take advantage of patents from small companies.

    • bionicwaffle

      I still think it’s good but I think patent trolls are less of a problem than companies like Apple who sue everyone for no good reason and Nokia/Microsoft who sues HTC for something dumb like a microphone.

  • StuckOnVerizonForever

    They need a bill to kick Boner out.

  • sagisarius

    Next they need a way to stop Apple, Microsoft, Oracle… and other giant companies from buying vague and non innovative patents and suing to stop other companies from innovating.

  • t_mac

    I rather see a law that abolishes patent law (government awarded monopoly). Patents only stifle innovation.

    • sagisarius

      I keep wishing they would just apply monopoly and antitrust law to patents, which as you point out, are defined as government granted monopolies.

    • triumphtriple

      Maybe not abolishes it, but limits it quite a bit from where it’s at now. Maybe 1-3 years tops depending on the industry in my opinion.

    • zurginator

      If you want to see battery improvements, parents need to stick around. Nobody is going to bother innovating if they can’t get a patent and by extension make a fortune off of whatever they come up with.

      • t_mac

        The food industry has functioned without patent laws and they innovate all they time even under the pressure of store brand version copy-cats.

        • zurginator

          More than slightly different – and food companies do indeed have exclusive rights to the things they come up with.

  • Cowboydroid

    And what about the larger corporations going after smaller businesses? That’s where the real problems lie, in restricting competition in the market.

    I’m looking at you, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Honeywell, etc.

    • j

      they pay too..

  • S9779

    This is typical government maneuvering to protect large companies. This will do nothing to keep them from taking each other to court. What it will do is keep small business patent owners from bringing suit against larger company’s for fear of losing and going bankrupt paying there legal fees. Cause God knows our current judicial system has no business hearing technical patent suits.

    • triumphtriple

      Yup. The reason this had such broad support is not because they are annoyed by patent trolls like we are. It’s because big companies can only benefit from this and probably dumped a bunch of money into their Super PACs in exchange.
      This will likely just bend the little guy over and force him to take it.

    • They should charge something like “10% of your company’s value” or something like that so that if you think you have a legitimate claim but you don’t win, you don’t go bankrupt…you just get a swift kick in the knees. But if you’re a huge company, that 10% could be billions!

  • Chase Chick

    Great, stamp on the little man’s head, and Apple still gets to wield the patent sword. Nice work everyone. Hats off!

  • droidify

    I wish they would do this with all frivolous law suits.

    • Cowboydroid

      Loser Pays is great for discouraging frivolous lawsuits. But a high degree of faith in the judicial system is necessary, to be assured that justice isn’t miscarried and the real victim gets double-whammied by paying out of their own pocket.

      I don’t have a high degree of faith in our judicial system.

  • NeedName

    Is this the same bill that was essentially neutered by major corporations like apple and MS?

  • Michael Pahl

    Came looking for something that would keep Apple from trying to sue each and every other company out there.
    I am dissapoint.

    • anywherehome

      Apple+ Microsoft have bribed them all so they will continue to abuse the patent system because they are not able to innovate any more