The National Cable and Telecommunications Association has
joined with the Computer and Communications Industry Association and more than
four dozen other groups to ask House and Senate leaders on both sides of the
aisle to crack down on so-called patent trolls.
a letter to the Senate majority and minority leader and the speaker and
minority leader of the House, the groups called on Congress to curb the legal
abuses of parties that file "frivolous patent suits" that are gaming
the system with serious consequences for the U.S. economy.
"We seek reforms to the current system that would
significantly curb trolls' [formally 'patent assertion entities'] ability to
extort settlement demands from retailers, technology companies, small
businesses, financial services institutions, state and local government
entities, and many others who are today the targets of their outrageous
Using figures from a recent White House report, they said
that patent troll activity has quadrupled since 2005, costing the economy $80
billion in 2011 alone.
They point out that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) chair of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, and Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House
Judiciary Committee, are both taking up the issue of comprehensive legislation,
but they are looking for strong support from leadership as well.
There is a growing consensus that now is the time to address
this issue," they said. That consensus has been much in evidence inside
the Beltway the past few months.
In May, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing on
the impact of patent trolls on small businesses. In their letter, the groups
point out that the trolls are increasingly targeting small and mid-sized
businesses, and not just tech firms.
president also issued an executive order last month outlining steps to try
to curb frivolous patent suits. Those included requiring patent applicants to
identify the ultimate corporate owner (real party in interest) of a patent and
asking Congress to come up with legislation.
On the Hill, Sen. Amy Klobuchar has called for more action
on stemming abuses. "From the Post-it Note to the Pacemaker, intellectual
property is critical to the success of businesses in Minnesota and across the
country," she said in a statement last month. "But too many bad actors are
bringing up frivolous patent claims, creating a drag on innovation for
companies of all sizes. I will continue to fight to improve our patent system
and ensure that it is used to promote innovation and protect intellectual
Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Hakeem
Jeffries (D-N.Y.) last week introduced the Patent Litigation and Innovation
Act, which CEA says would "allow legitimate companies to protect their
patents, while discouraging abusive litigation."