House Subcommittee Advances Faulty Patent TROL Act

BY Heather Greenfield
July 10, 2014

Washington — Those leading the lobbying efforts against meaningful patent reform legislation are now supporting a bill that could actually make it easier for patent trolls to extort money – known as the TROL Act. A House subcommittee referred the bill to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee after a hearing this morning.

Though being presented as a remedy for part of the troll problem, it makes the problem worse. Longtime advocates of comprehensive patent reform have tried to point out flaws in the bill that would make it even easier for patent trolls to extort money from their targets. The Federal Trade Commission also weighed in against the TROL Act as it would weaken their ability to curb abuse by changing the current standard of “consumer harm” for action to also require them to show bad faith intent when cracking down on patent trolls.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has been advocating patent reform for more than a decade including steps to combat the growing cost of patent trolls.

The following statement may be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“Those misusing the patent system scored a second victory this time in the House by lobbying to advance ineffective legislation that purports to rein in letters demanding money by alleging patent infringement.

“We are very concerned that, with so many main street businesses and even those buying a scanner at Staples getting hit with dubious patent demand letters, many in Congress will settle for bad legislation like the TROL Act in a mistaken attempt to address the problem. For those who understand the patent legal system, the TROL Act would actually empower trolls and insulate abusive conduct — that’s why patent trolls are supporting it and those like us who want real reforms are not.”

The following can be attributed to CCIA patent counsel Matt Levy:

“As much as businesses need tools to combat patent trolls, this legislation is worse than no legislation. To curb the patent trolls’ business model, reform legislation must include tools to level the litigation playing field. Otherwise patent trolls will still have the leverage to misuse the system to extort quick legal settlements. This bill would also preempt the pro consumer laws enacted by 15 states and being considered in over a dozen other states. Tying the hands of state attorneys general trying to protect their citizens is not an effective way to deal with patent trolls.
“We appreciate Chairman Terry’s hard work, and we recognize that this is a sincere attempt to rein in patent trolls. But, as the House of Representatives affirmed with a 325-91 vote last fall, it will take comprehensive legislation to fix the patent system. We hope that the Energy and Commerce Committee will understand the need for a comprehensive package and avoid passing this well-intentioned, but dangerous, bill.”

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