WASHINGTON (1/29/15)--The U.S. Congress must act to combat abusive patent demand letters. Deceptive demand letters and litigation from entities asserting low quality patents are major challenges facing the financial services industry, leading the Credit Union National Association and other trade organizations to express their concerns to members of Congress.
, sent Wednesday, outlines concerns about such lawsuits and urges Congress to take action against the "patent trolls" that bring them.
"We have serious concerns about the current patent litigation environment as well as the quality of patents granted by the Patent and Trademark Office," the letter reads. "In addition, patent trolls continue to assert low-quality patents through vaguely worded demand letters with the full knowledge that their targets, our members, are more likely to pay unnecessary licensing agreements then engage in lengthy, costly litigation."
The letter highlights a set of principles adopted by the financial services industry that it feels are needed to address the issue.
The principles fall into three categories, and are as follows:
- Efficiency of the litigation process: Improvements need to be made to make the cost and burdens of patent litigation equitable and more efficient;
- Enhanced transparency: Abuse of the patent system through the use of vaguely worded demand letters must be ended by requiring such letters to provide more details about the patent and who claims to assert it; and
- Patent quality: Improvements are needed in the post-grant review of patents such as making the Covered Business Method (patents that claim a method or operation used in practice, administration or management of a financial product or service) permanent and more useable for smaller entities.
According to the organizations, those principles will "go a long way in protecting the financial services sector and the millions of customers our members interact with on a daily basis from the harm wrought by patent trolls."
In addition to CUNA, the letter was signed by the American Bankers Association. American Insurance Association, The Clearing House, Financial Services Roundtable, Independent Community Bankers of America, Mortgage Bankers Association, NACHA--The Electronic Payments Association, National Association of Federal Credit Unions and National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
A patent troll bill was
last May by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) in the House, which eventually
the House subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade. A separate bill was considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee before eventually being
from the voting agenda.