Patent Trolls, I Hate You

The U.S House has approved legislation that would overhaul the patent system and roust a few trolls. I’m particularly interested in this because a patent troll has been strangling development (and making cash with Mafia-style tactics via his licensing strongarm assholes) in teledildonics since 1998 (link NSFW). Snip:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House Friday approved an overhaul of the patent system designed to rein in excessive litigation and improve patent quality, giving tech firms a long-sought legislative victory.
The 220-175 vote in the House resulted from a strong push by Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who had made patent reform part of her tech-friendly “innovation agenda.” Sixty Republicans also supported the measure, including GOP members from areas of California, Texas and Virginia where high-tech companies are concentrated.
“This is much-needed reform, and it’s a balanced approach,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a San Jose Democrat who worked on the bill for several years. Pharmaceutical and biotech firms objected to the bill, but Lofgren said the changes would not hurt their patent holdings.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he plans for the Senate to take up a similar bill this fall. One tech lobbyist, Joshua Ackil, said House passage “will give real momentum to the Senate.”
White House officials signaled support for the bill’s overall approach, but the Office of Management and Budget, in a message to the House, also cited concern for “unnecessary” changes to patent law.
That was an apparent reference to provisions that would limit damages in patent infringement cases. The changes would make it easier for a judge or jury not to include the entire value of a product in assessing damages if the patent in dispute contributed a small amount to the product.
Microsoft, Cisco and other large companies complained that “patent trolls” and other entities secured questionable patents and then demanded expensive licensing fees by threatening lawsuits.
The case that showed the need for reform, many companies said, was the $1.5 billion jury award – thrown out by a judge last month – against Microsoft for infringing Alcatel’s MP3-technology patent.
The House bill includes a review process after a patent is granted, so a company could challenge a patent it does not consider valid. Mark Chandler, general counsel for Cisco, said “bad patents stifle innovation” and the new process “would not hurt true innovators.”


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