The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued a statement today praising the House of Representatives passing a bill to deal with patent trolling. The bill, the Innovation Act, was supported by a majority of House members, winning passage by a vote of 323-89. All that's left is for the Senate to take up the bill, which it plans to do before the end of the year.
While the EFF applauds the House's efforts, it also notes that the Innovation Act is by no means a perfect bill:
"The Innovation Act isn't perfect. It doesn't go nearly far enough to reform the demand letter problem. Its provisions protecting consumers and end-users, while present, aren't as robust as we would hope. And it dropped expanded covered business method review, a provision that would have helped ensure that the Patent Office issues fewer patents for 'inventions' that aren't particularly inventive.
But the Innovation Act is nonetheless a huge step in the right direction. It gives defendants tools to fight back, makes litigation cheaper and includes an important fee-shifting provision, so companies that stand up to the trolls have a chance to recover their fees and costs at the end of litigation. It requires trolls to make their case up front by providing basic information about their patents, the supposed infringement. And it prohibits trolls from hiding behind shell companies. "
The EFF closes by saying that lawmakers seem to have an understanding that those who engage in patent trolling harm innovation and put an undue financial burden on the companies, organizations, and even individuals they target.
We will have more on this bill as the Senate crafts and votes on a counterpart bill to deal with this very serious issue.