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house Bill H.R. 2045

Cracking Down on Patent Trolls

Argument in favor

Businesses need to be protected from frivolous patent demand letters that have no legal basis and drain resources that could be used to further their business.

pgshpak's Opinion
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05/29/2015
Listen to the podcast listed in the description. This bill aims to prevent fraud. It aims to stop those wishing to take advantage of loopholes. I wish we didn't need to waste time and money on this sort of thing, but listen to that podcast and you'll agree: we do.
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Frank's Opinion
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05/29/2015
In the end, it's only the people who suffer. Companies are now in the business of buying ideas.
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Peter's Opinion
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05/29/2015
I'm in the tech industry and think this needs to stop. Companies are making millions or more by suing everyone they can. This is not right but we have to protect legitimate cases.
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Argument opposed

People should have the right to protect their patents, so they can get paid for their innovations. Target the scammers, not the people seeking their fair share.

ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/28/2015
I would be in support of my state taking this legislative action. I am not in favor of transferring more authority to the FTC and allowing them to set a precedent for what is frivolous and what is not.
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RickS's Opinion
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05/29/2015
Fix the patent system. This will not handle the real problem.
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Maureen's Opinion
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05/29/2015
I prefer the states to have power over patent action or be able to also take action. Not be excluded from action if the FTC takes action.
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What is House Bill H.R. 2045?

This bill — the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters (TROL) Act — seeks to stop abusive patent letters. Specifically, threatening accusations sent to businesses, claiming that they have violated the rights of a patent holder, but have misleading information or fail to disclose key pieces of patent information. 

The people and companies who send the types of letters that this bill targets are known as ‘patent trolls’ — hence, "the TROL Act."

It would be considered an unfair or deceptive practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act if the sender of a letter says — in bad faith — that they have or will take legal action against the letter’s recipient, or they claim to hold the rights to the allegedly infringed patent. If you're not brushed up on your patent law — check out this podcast from This American Life for a refresher.

The letter’s sender also cannot seek compensation for things that happened after a patent expired, or for activities that the sender knew were legal and didn’t infringe the patent. Also, the sender must identify the person who holds the rights to the "infringed patent," specify which patent they're talking about, and what the letter’s recipient did to infringe the patent.

The maximum civil penalty for violating this Act would be $5 million. States would be prevented from bringing an action against a defendant who is the target of a pending federal action brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Impact

Patent trolls, large and small businesses that could be targeted by patent trolls, patent holders, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, legal systems and their employees all across the country.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2045

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: In 2011 it was estimated that accusations by patent trolls cost U.S. businesses $29 billion in legal expenses and license fees. This does not include other costs like delays in new product releases, or the diversion of resources to battle claims.

Sponsoring Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) says that “this legislation takes on a costly scam that, by many accounts, continues to worsen.” The Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) added that if this bill is passed, “when a patent troll sends abusive letters, we [will] provide tools to identify those letters and provide better enforcement.”

This bill was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a 30 to 22 vote. The Committee also states that organizations that support this legislation include the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Innovation Alliance, and the American Conservative Union.


Media:


Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user cali4beach)

AKA

Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act of 2015

Official Title

To provide that certain bad faith communications in connection with the assertion of a United States patent are unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Consumer Protection and Commerce
    IntroducedApril 28th, 2015
    Listen to the podcast listed in the description. This bill aims to prevent fraud. It aims to stop those wishing to take advantage of loopholes. I wish we didn't need to waste time and money on this sort of thing, but listen to that podcast and you'll agree: we do.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    I would be in support of my state taking this legislative action. I am not in favor of transferring more authority to the FTC and allowing them to set a precedent for what is frivolous and what is not.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    In the end, it's only the people who suffer. Companies are now in the business of buying ideas.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    Fix the patent system. This will not handle the real problem.
    Like (3)
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    Put An end to these scammers. Like so many other gimmicks to get rich quick without working a legitimate job. Same for medical malpractice scams.
    Like (2)
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    Patent trolls are a legal method for the unscrupulous to shake down small companies with dubious lawsuits.
    Like (2)
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    Trolling is only ok when you are fishing.
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    Patent laws in general need to be reformed to reflect the fast pace of technological innovation today, particularly in software. Cracking down on patent trolls would be a good first step.
    Like (2)
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    I'm in the tech industry and think this needs to stop. Companies are making millions or more by suing everyone they can. This is not right but we have to protect legitimate cases.
    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
    I prefer the states to have power over patent action or be able to also take action. Not be excluded from action if the FTC takes action.
    Like (1)
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    It is up to companies to protect their assets, not me
    Like (1)
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    I am in favor of this, but there are also legitimate patent infringement that should not be stifled because of this bill so as long as legitimate claims can get through I am for this
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    Although it is currently fashionable to protect businesses and not individuals, it has hurt the U.S. economy and our culture badly. Just stop it now! On every issue!
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    This is just another form of bullying. Baseless threats of legal action to protect pseudo-patents and prevent another party from getting a patent registered is plain wrong.
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    Patents are an annoying speedbump to the companies that make it big, doing nothing but waste taxpayer money.
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    Many companies in this country have already figured out we are no longer at the top of anything other than amount on incarcerated per capita. We must continue to protect our intellectual property, because soon that will be our only valuable commodity.
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    Patient trolls look for money by making a vague product and when someone merely has any relation to it, they sue them. this needs to be stopped or there will be even more inequality in money.
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    Big business has a habit of stepping on the rights of legitimate people who get their ideas stolen from them.
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    How to be a Patent Troll: 1) Buy a vague patent. 2) Sue a random company that is using technology covered under your vague patent for millions of dollars. 3) Settle for less outside of court. 4) Congratulations, you're scum.
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    You can't trust business to do the right thing !
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