WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Forty-two state attorneys general signed onto a letter sent Monday to key lawmakers, and which voiced their support for legislation to fight patent abuses and reform the system.
From the outset of their letter, the attorneys general highlighted their concerns regarding so-called "patent trolls," saying they "stifle innovation and harm our economy by making dubious claims of patent infringement and using the threat of expensive litigation to extort money from small businesses and nonprofits."
Credit unions are among those who have been victimized by patent trolls and the Credit Union National Association and its affiliated state credit union associations have been active on every level urging state and federal lawmakers and the Obama administration that patent reform is needed.
The AG letter went on to say patent trolls have threatened thousands of businesses and non-profits, and when the AGs receive complaints from their constituents they have responded by launching investigations and bringing enforcement actions against patent trolls.
"Our authority to protect businesses derives primarily from state statutes that prohibit unfair and deceptive acts. Though any patent holder has a right to fight infringement, it may not do so in a manner that is unfair or deceptive," the letter said.
While commending current legislation (S. 1720 and the recently passed H.R. 3309), the letter recommended four additional provisions to be added as bills work their ways through the legislative process. They are:
- Confirmation of state attorneys generals' authority to bring the same types of enforcement actions under state law as under federal law;
- Clarification of state-court jurisdiction over bad-faith demand letters;
- Transparency for patentees that send demand letters; and
- Patent litigation reform, so the cost of patent litigation doesn't far outstrip the cost of a settlement.
The letter was addressed to Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt,), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of that panel; John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; and John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of Rockefeller's committee.
CUNA is also working to enlist the help of consumers in the effort to gain patent reforms through the U.S. Congress. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said recently in a Huffington Post
article, ""If you are a member of a credit union, a customer at another small financial institution, or an owner of a small business, I hope you will contact your senator and let them know you are behind efforts to combat the tactics of the trolls."