Poll: Should Patent Trolls Pay All Costs and Attorney’s Fees If They Lose?

July 10, 2013 -

Patent trolls.

Nobody likes them.  Always hiding under bridges and eating sheep.  If that weren't bad enough, they also like to acquire generic and incredibly broad patents and spam every business within earshot of infringement in an attempt to collect settlement monies.  They typically have nothing to do with the patent they own and often don't make or sell anything.  Other than the bridge/sheep thing, they pretty much just try to take advantage of small companies that don't have the bank to fight it out in court.

Check out our Patent Trolls tag if you want to see some of the shenanigans these sheep-eating shmucks have been up to.

Sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the SHIELD (Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes) Act seeks to keep them darn patent trolls under their bridges where they belong by requiring them to pay all costs and attorney fees if they bring a patent lawsuit and lose.  According to DeFazio, patent trolls lose 92% of the time so he hopes the act will "deter those trolls from filing flagrant lawsuits in the first place."

So, what do you think, GamePolitics readers?  Is the SHIELD Act a good idea?  Read the specifics of the Act right here, vote in the poll and fill the comments with your opinions.  Heck, you can even send us email at SuperPACpodcast@gmail.com if you're so inclined.  On next week's podcast, EZK and I will reveal the poll results and discuss your opinions.

Patent trollolo!

"vote label" © Tribalium / Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


Re: Poll: Should Patent Trolls Pay All Costs and Attorney’s ...

Neeneko brought up some good concerns about such a law in a previous article.  But if the law could be worded in a way that it catches true patent trolls, without having a chilling effect on innovators without huge legal teams, then go for it.  Bury these slimeballs in legal fees.

Re: Poll: Should Patent Trolls Pay All Costs and Attorney’s ...

I am reminded of a case I was watching a while ago that might serve as an example of how this can backfire.

One of the oddities about the Americans with Disabilities act is there is no actual enforcement for existing construction.  The practical outcome of this is that in order to get companies to comply with the law citizens  must file suit.  The theory was that it empowered people to be proactive in getting businesses to comply without having to involve buecracies like L&I or overloaded police/prosecutors.

The reality, unfortunately, is that businesses discovered that the 'americans are sue happy' meme was enough to go after activists as vexatious litigants with the idea that if a handful of people were suing many companies in a region they must simply be extorting them or 'looking for infractions in order to profit'.

Thus they were able to shut down anyone who was starting to get successful at getting companies to comply with the law while managing to spin the PR to make themselves appear to be the victims of 'lazy disabled people who do not want to work'. 

Laws designed to stop vexatious ligitation are band aids at best, and often get abused to stop weaker parties from impacting groups with deeper pockets.  In this case, I see the solution being somewhere in the patent office rather then the courts.

Re: Poll: Should Patent Trolls Pay All Costs and Attorney’s ...

Profit in what way?  Were the litigants getting some kind of damages awarded, other than getting the business to come into compliance?

Re: Poll: Should Patent Trolls Pay All Costs and Attorney’s ...

True, the litigants would get a payout, but after legal fees it generally was not as impressive as it was generally spun.  It was essentially a fine where it went to the people bringing the case rather then the state since, well, the state abdicated its place in prosecuting.

And TBH, I have no problem with the people bringing these cases making a profit.  They are using their own time, money, often extensive amounts of each, doing the job L&I should be doing.  In any other domain this is usually lauded as outsourcing bounties from government functions.

Re: Poll: Should Patent Trolls Pay All Costs and Attorney’s ...

OK.  I was trying to see how the businesses even could try to spin it as the litigants profiting financially.  I didn't know about the fines.

Re: Poll: Should Patent Trolls Pay All Costs and Attorney’s ...

To be fair, patent, trademarks and copyrights have their own chilling effect, so even risking a mid-point might be advantageous.

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