Patent News

May. 18, 2015

The Washington Times: Small inventors step up fight to block patent overhaul law, by Kellan Howell

This post originally appeared in The Washington Times on May 18, 2015.

Rarely do small inventors and business owners go to such great lengths to lobby Washington lawmakers, but new patent legislation is proving to be so controversial that small innovators across the country are banding together to form a new lobbying voice.

But the issue is also proving divisive for the entrepreneurs’ natural political ally, as the Republicans in Congress have yet to unite behind a single position.

Supporters of the legislation, known as The Innovation Act, say it will update intellectual property laws to rein in “patent trolls,” mostly shell companies that buy up vague patent ideas and concepts, with the intent of suing other companies for infringement when they bring real products to the market.

But critics of the legislation warn it goes too far, targeting just a small number of abusers while raising the costs for legitimate patent holders to protect their legal rights under long-established law.

Some small-scale innovators say that the legislation only helps big companies like Google and Apple, and argue that provisions in the bill make it so difficult for innovators to protect their patents that it actually stifles American innovation.

“I’ve been fighting against bills that are bad for our patent system for some time now, and these bills all make it harder for the independent inventor to defend a patent,” said Randy Landreneau, founder of Independent Inventors of America.