The Washington Times: Patent law reform bill to stop trolls could also stifle innovation, critics say, by Kellan Howell
This post originally appeared in The Washington Times on February 5, 2015.
House Republicans on Thursday restarted their campaign to reform U.S. patent laws, a bipartisan effort backed by heavyweights such as Google and Facebook that also has awakened protest from some conservatives who are fearful it will trample inventors’ protections.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican and House Judiciary Committee chairman, reintroduced the Innovation Act, which passed in the House last session by a vote of 325-91 but was killed in the Senate.
Supporters say the bill will update intellectual property laws to rein in “patent trolls,” mostly shell companies that buy up vague patents with the intent of suing other companies for infringement.
“In recent years, we have seen an exponential increase in the use of weak or poorly granted patents by patent trolls to file numerous patent infringement lawsuits against American businesses with the hope of securing a quick payday,” Mr. Goodlatte said. “With our current patent laws being abused, American businesses small and large are being forced to spend valuable resources on litigation rather than on innovating and growing their businesses.”
Opponents of the legislation unveiled their high-profile pitchwoman, former Hewlett-Packard CEO and potential presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who argued that the bill imposes overreaching standards on patent litigation that would make it hard for innovators to protect their property rights.
“There are some problems in our patent system and there are people who use the threat of patents inappropriately, but here we have a vast, sweeping piece of legislation that causes more problems than it solves,” Ms. Fiorina said.