Patent News

Apr. 23, 2015

Legal Newsline: House subcommittee moves forward with patent TROL bill, by Jessica M. Karmasek

This post originally appeared in Legal Newsline on April 23, 2015.

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – A U.S. House subcommittee has advanced a piece of patent reform legislation that would rein in abusive demand letters.

On Tuesday, the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee voted, 10-7, to move forward with the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act of 2015, also referred to as the TROL Act.

The proposed legislation offers what some call a “balanced solution” to the demand letter problem — the crux of the current patent reform debate.

Such letters are often sent by so-called patent “trolls” in an attempt to enforce or assert rights in connection with a patent or a pending patent.

Patent trolls, or “bad actors,” are those patent assertion entities or non-practicing entities that purchase groups of patents without an intent to market or develop a product and then target other businesses with lawsuits.

The TROL Act aims to protect businesses while preserving the ability of patent holders to legitimately protect their intellectual property by increasing transparency and accountability in demand letters. It also would give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to levy fines on fraudulent practices.

The CMT subcommittee is working off a draft of the TROL Act that was advanced by the subcommittee last Congress, and is seeking to improve the bill in an effort to achieve the “greatest protections” without harming innovation or punishing those patent holders acting in good faith.