Patent News

Apr. 14, 2015

The Hill: Patent head suggests tweaks to House bill, by Mario Trujillo

This post originally appeared in The Hill on April 14, 2015.

One section of the House’s patent reform bill has the potential to limit investment in start-ups, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Michelle Lee told lawmakers on Tuesday.

In prepared testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, she recommended a small clarification that would give investors and venture capitalists clarity that they would not be on the hook during patent infringement litigation.

The requested clarification focuses a section of the patent bill that is meant to prevent “patent trolls” who file infringement lawsuits through insolvent shell companies from getting out of paying attorney’s fees — a provision typically known as the “joinder provision.”

“Individual investors, for example, may not be willing to invest in a start-up company if the risks of doing so included not just the loss of their initial investment, but also personal liability to the investor for the company’s subsequent patent litigation decisions,” she said in prepared remarks.