App Developers and Startups Need Patent Reform Now

The Application Developers Alliance supports legislative reforms that undermine the patent troll business model without harming legitimate patent enforcement. Patent trolls use junk patents to intimidate and extort businesses into paying licensing fees by promising a long and costly legal battle should the business refuse. Abusive patent enforcement threats and litigation distract innovators, chill investment, and waste extraordinary amounts of capital that could be used to build products and grow companies. For tech startups and app developers, responding to abusive patent trolls significantly harms growth and can bankrupt a business. 

The Alliance supports policies that short-circuit frivolous litigation, address the imbalance in litigation burdens, and ensure transparency and specificity in demand letters and complaints.  

+ Pre-Litigation: Mandate Transparency & Specificity in Demand Letters & Complaints

  • Require that demand letters and Complaints – regardless of how many are sent by a single entity or with regard to a single patent – identify the relevant patent and claim, the alleged infringing functionality, and the real parties in interest. This minimum information will allow recipients to thoughtfully review whether infringement allegations merit an agreement to license.
  • Require all demand letters to be posted on a publicly accessible website, so similarly situated defendants can work collectively to avoid “nuisance settlements” that are often necessary when fighting trolls alone.

+ Pre-Litigation: Empower Regulators to Punish Unfair and Deceptive Demand Letters

  • Clarify existing Federal Trade Commission authority to empower enforcement actions against those who send intentionally misleading, frivolous or abusive demand letters.

+ Litigation Alternative: Address Junk Patents

  • The explosion in abusive junk patent litigation justifies creating an easy-to-use and quick process for reexamining and invalidating poor quality, vague or overbroad patents. This program would enable start-ups to fight back against trolls at less cost, with fewer lawyers, and would also strengthen our patent system by making meritorious patents relatively more valuable.

+ Reduce Litigation Costs and Risks

  • Modify Discovery Rules: Courts should require each party to pay discovery it requests following exchange of core technology documents. Reducing the crushing costs of one-sided discovery while still providing all materials necessary to prove if a patent is valid and infringement occurred, will rob trolls of a key weapon they use to extort unjust nuisance settlements.
  • Loser Pays in Patent Cases: Shifting litigation costs incentivizes trolls to think much more carefully before they sue – an important factor for judicial efficiency and fairness.

+ Protect End Users of Software

  • Just as consumers and small businesses use off-the-shelf products provided by manufacturers, developers frequently use 3rd party software. Neither should be liable for infringement just for using a product that infringes a patent. Thus, any “customer-suit exception” should apply to customers of software products.


Help us stop patent trolls! Join the Application Developers Alliance, innovators, and entrepreneurs everywhere to fight trolls. Visit for more information.