How Congress Is Aiming To Defang Patent Trolls

Tim Fernholz | Quartz | October 24, 2013

A new bill in the US Congress is aimed at curbing firms that buy patents and use them aggressively to extract licensing fees—a.k.a. patent trolls.

The legislation—introduced today by Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—combines a number of different bills with the support of lawmakers from both parties, giving it a shot at becoming law, though the patent license lobby is fighting against it. Here’s how the bill would make it harder for rent-seeking firms to demand millions from software companies trying to build new products:

∙ No more hiding behind opaque court filings. Typically, patent trolls can file loosey-goosey court documents presenting little evidence for their claim of infringement. Now, they’ll have to specifically identify how the application in question violates their patent, allowing their targets (and the public) to be better informed about the facts of the case.