New Patent Reform Bill Introduced in Congress: FDRA Supports New Legislation To End “Patent Trolling”

New Patent Reform Bill Introduced in Congress: FDRA Supports New Legislation To End “Patent Trolling”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), along with a group of Republican and Democrats, introduced the bipartisan Innovation Act (H.R. 9).  This bill was introduced to address the ever increasing problem of abusive patent litigation.  Many in the footwear industry know patent abusers as “patent trolls” and have been impacted by their schemes.

Chairman Goodlatte commented: “In recent years, we have seen an exponential increase in the use of weak or poorly granted patents by patent trolls to file numerous patent infringement lawsuits against American businesses with the hope of securing a quick payday.  American businesses small and large are being forced to spend valuable resources on litigation rather than on innovating and growing their businesses. With our current patent laws being abused in ways that are threatening the survival of American innovation, the Congress must act to curb abusive patent litigation.  The bipartisan Innovation Act contains commonsense reforms and makes the patent litigation process more transparent…”

“More and more footwear companies are being impacted by ridiculous patent trolls.  This is a destructive practice to our industry and FDRA not only supports this legislation but will actively push for its passage on Capitol Hill as soon as possible,” said FDRA President Matt Priest.  “Similar legislation was passed in 2013 by the House but failed to gain traction in the Senate.  However, I think this bipartisan bill will have no problem getting through the Senate this year and I am confident the President will sign it – providing the industry with some much-needed relief.”

Background on the Innovation Act:

  • Requires plaintiffs to disclose who the owner of a patent is before litigation, so that it is clear who the real parties behind the litigation are. This will ensure that patent trolls cannot hide behind a web of shell companies to avoid accountability for bringing frivolous litigation.
  • Requires plaintiffs to actually explain why they are suing a company in their court pleadings.
  • Requires courts to make decisions about whether a patent is valid or invalid early in the litigation process so that patent trolls cannot drag patent cases on for years based on invalid claims.  This prevents invalid patents from being used to extort money from retailers and end users.
  • When parties bring lawsuits or claims that have no reasonable basis in law and fact, the Innovation Act requires judges to award attorneys’ fees to the victims of the frivolous lawsuit.  The bill allows judges to waive the award of attorneys’ fees in special circumstances.  This provision applies to both plaintiffs and defendants who file frivolous claims.
  • Requires the Judicial Conference to make rules to reduce the costs of discovery in patent litigation, so that patent trolls cannot use the high costs of discovery to extort money from small businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Creates a voluntary process for small businesses to postpone expensive patent lawsuits while their larger sellers complete similar patent lawsuits against the same plaintiffs, to protect customers who simply bought the product off-the-shelf.
  • Requires PTO to provide educational resources for those facing abusive patent litigation claims.

The Innovation Act previously passed the House of Representatives in the 113th Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 325-91.  That legislation was supported by a wide range of groups that include stakeholders from all areas of our economy representing businesses of all kinds from every corner of our country including independent inventors and innovators.