A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives attempts to deter frivolous patent litigation by forcing unsuccessful patent plaintiffs to cover defendants’ legal costs according to Daily Wireless. Introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act is limited to patents related to computer hardware and software.
“Patent trolls don’t create new technology and they don’t create American jobs,” DeFazio said in a news release. “They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn’t create and then suing the innovators who did the hard work and created the product.”
The article explains that patent trolls often buy broad patents that allow them to file flimsy lawsuits against multiple companies for infringement. Despite very thin evidence to back their lawsuits, companies are often forced to settle because going to court can easily cost over $1 million in legal costs even if the company prevails, explained DeFazio in a press release.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains the idea behind the SHIELD Act is simple: a plaintiff needs to believe that a defendant actually infringes a valid patent before it sues. If it doesn’t, that plaintiff could be on the hook for the costs of litigation and for the winning party’s attorneys’ fees (which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases).
Fee shifting, often called “loser pays,” is not a new idea. It’s long existed in copyright law, allowing a court to award a winning party costs and fees in certain cases. In patent litigation, the EFF says this type of provision would help tilt the playing field slightly more in favor of the good guys. Fee shifting would empower innovators to fight back, while discouraging trolls from threatening lawsuits to start.
Voter apathy has everything to do with everything about where the US is today. including patent reform. Who are the politicians going to listen to? I have covered the patent mess for a while here, here, here and here and I doubt the political clout me and my 416 other neighborhood voters even matter when compared to the millions of dollars that Apple, Google, ATT and the rest spend on lobbyists in Washington and Lansing to buy the legislation they want.
Have a nice day!