This bill aims to support intellectual property rights and prevent patent infringement by changing the administrative and judicial processes for patents.
When people (or companies) want to claim that another person (or company) has violated their exclusive rights to an invention, they would be suing for patent infringement. This bill creates new requirements for bringing forward a legal challenge.
The bill also aims to make the process more transparent and cut down on frivolous lawsuits filed by "patent trolls". Brush up on your knowledge of patent lawsuits and patent trolls with this podcast from This American Life.
Procedures used by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to examine patent applications, award patents, and determine the validity of granted patents would be changed to require the use of methods already used in district courts in patent cases. The PTO would also develop databases that make information about patent ownership and litigation available on its website.
Courts would be required to assess whether a patent is valid or invalid early in the litigation process to prevent meritless cases from dragging on indefinitely. This protects businesses from having to settle otherwise invalid claims because cases have taken such a long time that they’d rather not continue to pay legal fees.
Judges would be required to stay the discovery process in cases where a motion to dismiss or transfer has been filed. This helps victims of frivolous lawsuits avoid incurring costs during discovery, which can help patent trolls leverage quick settlements.
After a case that has no reasonable basis is decided, the parties that brought the case would be required to pay the legal fees of the victims of the frivolous lawsuit, and applies to both plaintiffs and defendants who file frivolous claims. Judges could waive this award in special circumstances.
The judicial processes used in patent infringement cases would be modified to require plaintiffs who make accusations to disclose the following information about the patent to the court and adverse parties:
The identity of the party assigned the patent;
Any entity with a right to sublicense or enforce the patent;
Entities the plaintiff knows to have a specified financial interest in the patent or the plaintiff;
The ultimate parent entity of any identified assignee or entity.