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Final patent bill must strengthen end-user protections: CUNA
WASHINGTON (4/4/14)--Effective protections for the end users of technologies like ATMs must be a part of any patent reform legislation enacted into law, the Credit Union National Association wrote in a Thursday joint letter to members of Congress.

The letter was sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and all other committee members in advance of an expected markup of a patent reform bill.

Effective protections, the letter said, would include clarifying that depository institutions are included under the definition of "covered customer" as defined in the Federal Reserve Act.

"Credit unions and banks, are in almost all circumstances buyers (end users) of technology and rarely develop it themselves. Simply, they should not be sued for buying something in good faith, off the shelf," the letter said.

Other protections advocated in the letter include:
  • Defining in greater detail the minimum elements of demand letter transparency, or
     
  • Allowing a federal agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission or Patent and Trademark Office, to promulgate standards for a demand letter through rulemaking that the FTC could enforce; and
     
  • Enhancing pleading standards for patent litigation.
Leahy last year introduced the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 (S. 1720), which would aid credit unions and other businesses that have been targeted by patent trolls. The committee may mark up this patent reform legislation on Tuesday.

Other Senate bills that would address patent troll issues include the Patent Litigation Integrity Act of 2013 (S. 1612) and the Patent Quality Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 866), offered by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"Reforms are desperately needed. This growing problem will not be solved until Congress passes bipartisan legislation that makes clear patent trolls can no longer get away with abusing the system," CUNA and others said in the letter.

The Independent Community Bankers of America,  National Association of Federal Credit Unions and American Bankers Association co-signed the letter.

Additional credit union priorities for patent law reform include:
  • More transparency in demand letters;
     
  • Clarification of Federal Trade Commission enforcement authority over unfair and deceptive demand letters;
     
  • A demand letter registry; and
     
  • Stronger end-user protections.
For the full letter, use the resource link.
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