We first brought to readers' attention the subject of so-called "patent trolls" in a blog post earlier this year, noting therein that, "Even readers unfamiliar with that term might be able to accurately gauge its meaning." (Please see our February 18 entry).
The term instantly sounds nefarious and somewhat offensive, doesn't it?
And for good reason. As we stated in the above-cited post, patent trolls own patents for the simple sake of, well, owning patents. Also known as patent assertion entities, these businesses often don't produce or sell anything at all; many trolls simply scarf up patent rights so that they can subsequently demand payment from small businesses. Resistance is often met with litigation that can easily bankrupt smaller actors.
Thus, patent trolls are bad for business, and broadly so.
A recent media article focusing upon the abusive nature of patent trolls suggests that the reform-minded momentum that seems to be growing on Capitol Hill might finally produce some protective legislation that is salutary for legitimate businesses.
In fact, there are a number of legislative initiatives in both the national House of Representatives and the Senate aimed at curbing patent assertion entities' abusive practices.
Reportedly, those bills and proposals focus upon different matters and are at various stages of readiness. One House bill with the shorthand title of the TROL Act, for example, seeks to curb troll abuses in demand letters. A Senate bill entitled the STRONG Patent Act, conversely, is aimed at making changes in the review process for challenging patents before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
We will certainly keep readers informed regarding any material developments that occur with legislation seeking to rein in patent trolls.