Patent-trolling bill would assist targets of nuisance lawsuits

By Dru Sefton

A bipartisan bill to fight so-called “patent trolls” was introduced on Capitol Hill Monday, reports Broadcasting & Cable.

Patent trolling, as the practice is known in the software industry, occurs when individuals or shell companies file broad, vague requests for software patents or ideas through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent holders then devote most or all of their company resources to filing lawsuits against companies whose products fit the description of their patents — such as podcasting.

Several pubmedia podcasters have been targeted, including Jesse Thorn and his Bullseye program.

The Patent Transparency and Improvement Act of 2013, backed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), would help consumers targeted in patent suits against companies by staying the case while the manufacturer litigates. Also, misleading letters demanding compensation for use of patents could be targeted by the Federal Trade Commission.

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