House To Vote On Patent Troll Bill

The House is expected to vote Thursday on patent "troll" legislation.

The House Judiciary Committee two weeks ago passed the Innovation Act of 2103 (HR 3309), the patent reform bill that was introduced last month by Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), targeted at so-called patent trolls.

Cable operators have celebrated and pledged to help get it passed.

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."

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. We commend the members of both parties who voted for this pro-jobs, pro-economy bill.

Sprint was pleased by the prospect of House passage. "Sprint applauds the House Judiciary Committee for its bipartisan approval of H.R. 3309, The Innovation Act of 2013, and urges the Members of the House to vote for this important legislation to reform patent litigation," the company said in a statement. "We seek support of this legislation on behalf of our employees, who last year in their work at Sprint, were granted a record 618 U.S. patents – more than all but one U.S. telecom carrier."

The White House supports the bill, saying it "would improve incentives for future innovation while protecting the overall integrity of the patent system." But the Administration still has some issues with provisions on patent claim construction and is hoping for additional provisions in the final legislation, including transparency of demand letters.

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.