Patent Reform Bill Approved by House Judiciary Committee

On Wednesday, the House Committee on the Judiciary approved H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act. The bill, introduced by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) with bipartisan support, would enable the victims of unscrupulous patent lawsuits to challenge low-quality business method patents at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office rather than the federal court system. This measure, if passed, will also provide relief to small and large businesses alike who face the ever increasing problem of abusive patent litigation that needlessly costs tens of billions of dollars every year.

Chairman Goodlatte expressed his support for the bill in a statement released by the Committee. “The Innovation Act contains needed reforms to address the issues that businesses of all sizes and industries face from troll-type behavior, while keeping in mind several key principles, including targeting abusive behavior rather than specific entities, preserving valid patent enforcement tools, preserving patent property rights, promoting invention by independents and small businesses, and strengthening the overall patent system,”  he said.

Challenging these low-quality patents administratively allows the targets of abuse to defend themselves more quickly and without the need for costly litigation. The law would also allow prevailing parties in frivolous patent lawsuits to more easily recover legal fees.

Targeting abusive patent litigation, increasing transparency, providing small business education and greater clarity will be a significant step in preventing the far-reaching stranglehold that these lawsuits can place on both businesses and innovation.

“H.R. 3309 goes a long way in preventing frivolous patent lawsuits, which stifle innovation and affect virtually every business sector in America.” said Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.

IFA strongly supports the Innovation Act, and has released a letter asking congressional leaders to help protect franchise small businesses by protecting their brands from patent abuse. For more information on the problems presented by patent trolls, please see this article in The Hill. To view the House Judiciary Committee’s Press Release on the hearing, please click here.