Rohrabacher Hammers 'Patent Troll' Legislation

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) took to the House floor Tuesday to slam the Innovation Act (H.R. 9), the "patent troll" bill being marked up in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday.

The bill was spearheaded by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the committee, and has bipartisan support including from ranking House Communications Subcommittee member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), but clearly not from the California congressman.

Rohrabacher called it a heinous attack on the property rights of inventors in the guise of targeting so-called "trolls," which he also defined as those who have a right in intellectual property that they bought from an inventor.

A similar, though not identical, bill was marked up (amended) and passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and was the target of some similar criticisms.

Backers of the patent reform bills say they balance the need to protect legitimate patent rights with the need to limit frivolous patent claims meant to get the targets of those claims to settle rather than pay for protracted litigation. But Rohrabacher said there is no excuse for the Innovation Act, which he said would allow huge corporations to destroy the patent system in the name of reforming it.

Rohrabacher told his colleagues that tying the bills to so-called "trolls" was a decoy being employed by large multinationals to steal the intellectual property of American inventors while pretending to solve the issue of frivolous suits.

He called on those colleagues to oppose the bill, and their constituents to weigh in as well.

He said the bill, which he called the anti-innovation act, was opposed by inventors and universities. He said by restricting the ability of inventors and their investors to defend property rights, it would dramatically decrease the value of patents and universities would have less resources.

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.