Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio is sick and tired of patent trolls, and he’s not going to take it anymore. DeFazio (D-OR) and Utah’s Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) today introduced a new bill dubbed the Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act, an ambitious efforts to curb the practices of entities that compile and hold patents for the simple purpose of suing other companies.
Dubbed the SHIELD Act, the legislation is designed to force patent trolls to pick up the costs of defendants’ legal bills.
“Patent trolls don’t create new technology and they don’t create American jobs,” said DeFazio in a press release. “They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn’t create and then suing the innovators who did the hard work and created the product. These egregious lawsuits hurt American innovation and small technology start ups, and they cost jobs. My legislation would force patent trolls to take financial responsibility for their frivolous lawsuits.”
DeFazio said that he took on the issue after hearing complaints from startup companies in his district who were being threatened by patent trolls.
Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures, the subject of an in-depth investigative report by public radio’s This American Life last year, is often labeled with the patent troll moniker. The Bellevue firm sits on thousands of patents, and has entered into a number of licensing agreements in recent months with technology companies who partner with the firm in order to seek protection from patent infringement issues. It also has recently engaged in several lawsuits against companies such as Nikon, Symantec, Trend Micro, Dell and HP.
Ars Technica has more details on the legislation, noting that it would mark the first time that Congress has defined the term “software patent.”
A number of consumer groups, venture capitalists and other tech industry organizations are supporting the measure. Michael Petricone, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs at the Consumer Electronics Association, commended the bipartisan effort as an important first step in “bringing patent trolls under control.”
“The recent explosion of lawsuits brought by non-practicing entities, better known as ‘patent trolls,’ is a tax on technology and an anchor on our ability to compete internationally,” he said. “Every dollar companies spend fighting baseless lawsuits is a dollar not spent on creating jobs and developing new products.”
You can see the house resolution here.