Two ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have said this week that they are concerned that some patents and actions related to enforcing them, are stifling competition. Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wi.) said in a letter to the Justice Department on Thursday expressing their fears about how patent fights are being played out in courts and other legal bodies in the U.S. and around the world.
Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Yahoo have been trying to protect their interest by buying up patents outright or acquiring other companies that have patents they want, and then launching legal battles against competitors.
Leahy and Kohl warned the Justice Department in its letter that some of these practices could be anti-competitive. For example, a company asking the International Trade Commission to completely block the use of a certain patent, rather than talking with a competitor about a compromise poses "a significant threat to competition and innovation," according to lawmakers.
Leahy and Kohl claim they don't hold any positions on the deals, but said that they wanted to highlight the potential for companies to use patents to beat each other up with. With that in mind, they urged the Justice Department to be "vigilant in monitoring the anti competitive use" of patents.
Source: National Journal