Industry Organizes Renewed Effort to Prevent Abuses by Patent Trolls

By Ed Silverstein May 23, 2013

The Coalition for Patent Fairness is continuing to draw attention to the many problems presented by patent trolls in the United States. Recently, the organization held a conference which attracted many industry representatives – ranging from those representing small businesses and larger companies.

“These organizations – large and small – are fed up. They’re sick and tired of patent assertion entities (PAEs), more commonly known as patent trolls, and their often baseless but costly attacks,” Alan Schoenbaum, general counsel at Rackspace, said in a recent blog post. “It’s a drain on innovation, a plague to all of technology and a drag on the economy.”

Among those most at risk from such litigation are small business end-users because hiring lawyers is difficult for them.

“Protecting end-users from suits will limit the options for PAEs, forcing them to pursue the manufacturers or providers of common products or services, rather than their customers,” Schoenbaum added.

While President Barack Obama had spoke about the patent troll issue in a Google+ hangout not too long ago, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) plans to push for legislation to strengthen the America Invents Act to prevent related litigation without merit.

In a recent public statement, Obama commented, “Efforts at patent reform only went about halfway to where we need to go. What we need to do is pull together additional stakeholders and see if we can build some additional consensus on smarter patent laws.”

 “We expect the Coalition for Patent Fairness, our host of the big tent meeting, to contribute and help pass a list of excellent and fair proposals designed to work together to knock out the most egregious abuses of the patent system,” Schoenbaum added. “The Internet Association will also weigh in with strong and thoughtful legislative proposals.”

The concern about the patent system – and trolls – is also a worry among industry watchers.

“Whether it be Google v. Oracle, Apple v. Samsung or NTY v. HPL, the current patent process is clearly broken and we are all the worse for it because of delayed innovation, lack of access potentially to useful products and higher prices,” TechZone360’s Peter Bernstein wrote last year.

For instance, patent trolls cost the U.S. economy $29 billion during 2011 – not including lost innovation, the coalition said.

Even with the progress made on this front with the America Invents Act “it stopped short of fixing a number of significant flaws – flaws that continue to stifle innovation, limit economic growth, and keep American entrepreneurs on the sidelines,” the coalition adds.

“We need to foster an environment where innovation and entrepreneurship are free to grow, without fear of patent trolls gaming the system in order to profit off the innovative work of others,” the coalition said in a recent statement. “The simple truth is that these patent trolls profit off the market innovation of others, and they are lining their pockets because of loopholes in the laws.”

The following organizations took part in the recent conference organized by the coalition: The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Grocers Association (NGA), American Hospital Association (AHA), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and National Retail Federation (NRF). Also, the National Restaurant Association (NRA), Financial Services Roundtable (FSR), The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), American Bankers Association (ABA), Newspaper Association of America (NAA), Entertainment Software Association (ESA), and Engine Advocacy. In addition others present were Public Knowledge, Internet Association, Internet Infrastructure Coalition, Business Software Alliance, Consumer Electronics Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), and Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).




Edited by Jamie Epstein

TechZone360 Contributor

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