House Judiciary Passes Patent Troll Bill

The House Judiciary Committee Wednesday passed the Innovation Act of 2013 (HR 3309), the patent reform bill that was introduced last month by Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), targeted at so-called patent trolls.

Now the legislation, which includes heightened pleading standards and shifting of fees to the losing party, heads to the House for a vote.

Cable operators were among those applauding the bill when it was introduced and pledging to work for its passage.

The bill is aimed at preventing "individuals from taking advantage of gaps in the system to engage in litigation extortion" and not to discourage "valid" patent litigation. Goodlatte's office said the bill does not "diminish or devalue patent rights in any way."

"Today marks progress in the fight against the patent trolls who exhort cash from innovative job creating companies," said Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro. "The Innovation Act of 2013 contains smart and common-sense provisions that will transform our patent system back into a mechanism to promote – not hinder – innovation."

Among other things, the bill requires lawsuit plaintiffs to specify which patents are at issue and what products allegedly infringe. The Innovation Act also allows a court to require the loser in a patent case to pay the winner's costs if the case was  not reasonably justified.

"ESA applauds Chairman Goodlatte and the House Judiciary Committee for their leadership in addressing predatory patent litigation," the Entertainment Software Association said in a statement. "The video game industry has an established track record of delivering innovative game products and services that engage and entertain consumers across a variety of platforms – and the high paying jobs that go with them. However, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of lawsuits brought by patent trolls that undermines our ability to invest in innovation."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.