With both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees voting on patent bills in the coming weeks, the Application Developers Alliance continues to keep the pressure on Capitol Hill legislators and staff, reminding them how critical broad patent reform is to the health of our developer network.
Our efforts to shine a light on bad actors in the patent arena have been instrumental in crafting legislation to curb abusive actions of patent trolls. Patent trolls, as you know, do not accept patents as a license to innovate and create jobs, but instead view them as weapons to make a quick and suspect buck. Trolls rely on junk patents, patents that should not have been issued in the first place, to bully businesses into paying settlement fees for fairly ubiquitous operations.
Last week, the Alliance team traveled to Hartford, Connecticut, to meet with Senator Blumenthal – a key member of negotiations taking place in the Senate on patent reform – and encourage him to support efforts to curb patent troll abuse. In the meeting, we shared first-hand accounts of patent trolls who prey on Connecticut businesses, thanks in part to our members from the state who shared their stories on our Troll Fighter website or participated in one of our recent fly-ins to Washington, DC.
In the coming weeks, the Senator is sure to hear more from both supporters and opponents of patent reform. Reform opponents will no doubt fall back on the tired lines that changes “will only benefit the tech industry” or “are just handouts to big companies.” These assertions could not be further from the truth. In our meeting, we emphasized that nearly a quarter of all patent troll-related court cases involved small- or medium-sized businesses in 2014. The facts are on our side.
Unified Patents, an organization dedicated to researching the toll patent trolls are exacting on our economy, has published a number of studies showing that patent trolls have no intention of slowing down. According to the group, patent litigation has risen sharply over the past five years, with nearly 5000 patent litigation filings in 2014 alone. The organization also found that in first quarter of 2015, there were nearly 30 percent more patent-related district court cases than the last quarter of 2014.
That is to say nothing about the dollar amount associated with the patent trolling. Estimates vary, but they are consistently in the billions of dollars. In fact, one study estimates that patent trolls cost our economy $29 billion in just one year. That is $29 billion that wasn’t spent on innovation or job creation to jump-start our still recovering economy.
The Apps Alliance remains committed to working with the both Senate and House to help get their respective bills (S. 1137 and H.R. 9) across the finish line with broad support. We believe that both proposals go a good distance in curbing patent abuses, protecting innovators and entrepreneurs around the country. Senator Blumenthal has yet to signal whether he will support the Senate bill, but we continue to work with his office, and with our Connecticut-based membership to move him in to the “supporter” camp.
To join the fight against abusive patent trolls, go to trollfighter.com. To receive more information on patent issues or to join in a future meeting, please sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Policy and Government Relations Manager