Apps Alliance Urges Legislative Action on Demand Letters to Protect Startups and App Developers from Patent Trolls

Washington, D.C. – The Application Developers Alliance today called on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade to swiftly enact legislation to prohibit a favored weapon America’s patent trolls – fraudulent demand letters that are intentionally vague, deceptive, overbroad or baseless.

“Economic growth and innovation are being threatened by corrupt patent trolls that send demand letters to entrepreneurs and creators threatening lawsuits unless a ransom is paid,” said Jon Potter, President of the App Developers Alliance. “Nearly one-third of our nation’s startups report receiving a demand letter, which for a small company is significant and costly, as undermines new investors and new customers. Now is the time for Congress to protect our job creators and put an end to this extortion.”

In a letter sent earlier this week to the Subcommittee, the Alliance said it supports policies that short-circuit frivolous litigation and ensure transparency and specificity in demand letters including:

  • Require demand letters to explicitly identify the patent or patents allegedly infringed by number by the recipient;

  • Require demand letters to explicitly identify the claim or claims allegedly infringed by the recipient;

  • Require demand letters to explicitly identify the alleged infringing functionality of the recipient’s products, tools or services;

  • Require demand letters be posted on a publicly accessible website; and

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

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The Application Developers Alliance is a non-profit global membership organization that supports developers as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. We promote industry growth and advocate on public policy and industry issues. The Apps Alliance, which now includes more than 200 corporate members and a 50,000-strong developer network, launched in January of 2012 and initiated European services in early 2014.  Membership includes app publishers, developer agencies, platforms, wireless carriers, hardware manufacturers, ad networks, enterprise tools and service providers.