U.S. Patent Trade Office is Getting a Face Lift

Senator John Cornyn and bi-partisan supporters are challenging patent abusers with the introduction of a new patent bill which will reduce and/or stop abusive patent lawsuit practices and further open the playing field for those who want to innovate and launch a technology startup or small business.

The new patent bill addresses updates to the current and outdated bill. Here are the high points from the current proposed changes to the bill:

  • Changes to Pleading Standards: The new bill creates clear standards when filing a patent infringement case. This will improve transparency for early disclosures and improve the court dockets, which are usually swamped, by decreasing the flow of meritless lawsuits.
  • End Users Receive Protection: Customers who buy a product that is “in dispute” will no longer be held liable. (The company/manufacturer could be going through the court process and the product hasn’t been removed from the shelf or is already in public use.)
  • Limits ‘Early Discovery’: Protection for litigants from the threat of an expensive and long discovery period. For example, in the initial stages of the court process such as dismissal or transfer venue, companies who are being litigated can still operate and continue selling their product or service.
  • Creates Risk for Bad Actors: To combat those who abuse the system by hiding behind a shell company, the bill provides the winner of the case be awarded reasonable attorney fees.   
  • Curbs Abusive Demand Letters: Fear mongering demand letters are not allowed. The bill heightens the penalties for those who violate the standards provided by the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Increases Transparency: The Patent Trade Office will now keep information about patent ownership as a resource for those who receive demand letters or a lawsuit and wish to confirm an allegation.

So what does it mean for your startup?

The fear of being driven from your business by false claims and expensive lawyer fees will no longer hang over the founder’s head if this bill passes. Plus, the bill provides a resource bank of past cases and demand letters so said founder has the tools to validate or dismiss a false claim.

For more information visit: http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=InNews&ContentRecord_id=29acedeb-200c-4fe0-a0ec-cd89f41ef376