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Conn. league adds voice to 'patent troll' reform with Blumenthal letter
MERIDEN, Conn. (2/20/14)--The Credit Union League of Connecticut has forwarded a letter to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) calling for patent reforms due to the growing impact of abusive litigation.
In announcing the letter to its membership, the league cited efforts by the Credit Union National Association and the Main Street Patent Coalition urging lawmakers to pass comprehensive patent troll reform.
So-called "patent trolls" use low-quality patents in an effort to extract settlements from credit unions.
"Over the past decade credit unions have increasingly found themselves the target of frivolous lawsuits from so-called patent trolls," states the letter, which is signed by league president Jill Nowacki and Kelly Ramsey-Fuhlbrigge, vice president of government relations. "Here in Connecticut, we would like to add our voice to urge the passing of comprehensive reform proposals that address five key areas: transparency, patent quality, demand letters, end users and litigation costs."
Transparency can be improved by eliminating the opportunity for trolls to hide behind multiple shell corporations, the letter states. "Legislation must address patent quality by expanding inexpensive review opportunities for unwisely issued patents," the letter adds. "It should make it easier to punish trolls that send fraudulent and abusive shakedown demand letters."
Patent trolls enforce questionable claims through demand letters to credit unions and other businesses by threatening to file lawsuits to collect licensing fees for patents, the letter alleges. "Patent trolls often allege that the use of necessary everyday technology violates the patent holders' rights, state vague or hypothetical theories of infringement, often overstate or grossly reinterpret the patent in question, and make allegations of infringement of expired or previously licensed patents," the letter states.
The letter explains that credit unions find they have no choice but to settle patent claims because they find defending themselves in court is too costly, which the trolls are gambling on.
CUNA supports a number of proposals currently being considered in the Senate, including the demand letter components of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 (S. 1720), offered by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), along with the Patent Litigation Integrity Act of 2013 (S. 1612) offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and the Patent Quality Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 866), offered by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) (News Now Feb. 12).

To read the letter, use the link.
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