A new update to the Shield Act in American patent law could see those that buy up patents in an effort to extort cash payouts from companies become liable for the entire legal costs of both sides – but only if they lose the court case.
The reason behind this plan to to help deter those that use the patent system in a nefarious manner, which has somewhat become the norm among big mobile manufacturers like Samsung and Apple. Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes bill is the name of the catchy bit of legislation and was introduced by Jason Chaffetz and Peter DeFazio.
“Patent trolls add no economic benefit to our nation,” said Chaffetz (via Wired). “They have captured part of the system, and they’re exploiting it for their own financial gain. They’re hampering the innovation that our country deserves. Literally every segment of our society’s business is being attacked by these patent trolls.”
As part of the new bill, it would be made possible for defendants in a case to identify their opponent as a patent troll. If they succeed, said troll would then become liable for all legal costs if they prove unsuccessful in their claim.
Of course it could also be exploited the other way, turning legitimate patent disputes into patent troll name calling. However, to help prevent this, a guideline of what isn’t a troll has been released. Such caveats include: original inventors, proof of patent exploitation by a third party or if the accused is a university of similar organisation.
KitGuru Says: About time something was done about this. Patent courts have just become another money making avenue for some firms, when in reality it should be there to help prevent companies exploiting smaller firms.