Patent News

Feb. 6, 2015

Law360: New Troll Bill Could Hobble All Patent Suits, Attys Say, by Ryan Davis

This article originally appeared in Law360 on February 6, 2015.

Law360, New York (February 05, 2015, 8:01 PM ET) — A bill introduced Thursday aimed at so-called patent trolls appears to have wide support in Congress, but attorneys say they are worried that the major changes to the patent system it calls for will make litigation more difficult for all patent owners, not just those who use abusive tactics.

The Innovation Act, H.R. 9, introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is largely similar to another bill with the same name that overwhelming passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013, only to die in the U.S. Senate. Among other provisions, the bill would raise pleading standards for patent suits, require losing parties in patent suits to pay the prevailing party’s legal fees in many cases and put limits on discovery.

The bill has numerous co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, leaders in both the House and the Senate have described it as a priority for the new Republican-controlled Congress and President Barack Obama has indicated his support for the measure, so the bill seems well on its way to being enacted.

But attorneys say the provisions included in the bill have a far broader reach than its proponents seem to recognize, because it would mandate changes that apply to every patent case. The sponsors of the bill said in a fact sheet that it is narrowly targeted to combat abusive litigation and “does not diminish or devalue patent rights in any way.”

“That is simply not true,” Joseph Re of Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP said. “Of course it does. It makes it harder to bring patent cases. That devalues patents by definition.”