Patent News

Mar. 3, 2015

The Hill: Senate Dems eye ‘targeted’ patent reforms, by Julian Hattem and Mario Trujillo

This post originally appeared in The Hill on March 3, 2015.

A trio of Senate Democrats are unveiling new legislation that they say will protect inventors who come up with smart new ideas.

The STRONG Patents Act from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) eschews a sweeping approach to combating patent “trolls” and instead opts for more targeted reforms that its authors say would help every sector of the economy.

“As our economy continues to grow and diversify, we need to ensure our patent system works for everyone, including inventors from all sectors of the economy,” Coons said in a statement. “The STRONG Patents Act includes targeted thoughtful reforms to combat abuse where it’s prevalent while ensuring our rich innovation ecosystem remains vibrant.”

The legislation appears markedly different from some of the other major patent reform proposals that have advocated for more sweeping changes to limit the power of the “trolls” who own patent licenses but don’t actually produce anything. Critics say the trolls bog down the economy by filing vague and costly lawsuits accusing other companies of infringing on their patent rights.

The Democrats’ bill would give the Federal Trade Commission more power to target companies that send out vague or abusive demand letters, in which a patent holder claims infringement and demands payment.