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Sounding The Battle Cry In The War On Patent Trolls

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In a major step in the ongoing war against patent trolls, 50 trade associations, coalitions and public interest groups today sent an open letter to Congress to urge congressional leaders to take action “to address abuses of the legal system by certain patent assertion entities, commonly referred to as patent trolls.” The letter was conceived and organized by the Coalition for Patent Fairness which has been a leading voice in the effort to reform U.S. patent laws.

The signers of this letter are a diverse group and cover a large part of the U.S. economy, including the Internet Association, the National Association of Realtors, the Software & Information Industry Association, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the National Retail Federation.

“Managing frivolous patent suits unfortunately has become an expensive distraction for a large cross section of American businesses. Instead of focusing on innovation, job creation, and economic growth, we are forced to deal with legal games that have serious consequences,” the letter states. From Wall Street, to Main Street, to Hollywood, all 50 groups have joined the gathering army against patent trolls and are ready to fight to defend innovation, curb abusive patent litigation and end the extortive tactics used by patent trolls against Main Street businesses.

The letter sheds light on some alarming statistics, that left ignored could further hurt not only the industries the signees represent, but America as a whole. According to the letter, the number of defendants sued by patent trolls has quadrupled since 2005; and in 2012 patent trolls sued more than 7,000 defendants and sent thousands more threat letters. This activity cost the U.S. economy $80 billion in 2011 and drove $29 billion in direct payouts. And, what’s even more startling is that in 2012 patent trolls sued more non-tech companies than tech companies. No one is immune therefore we must combine our efforts in this war on trolls.

While there is no single solution to this problem, this letter is a powerful tool to fuel the conversation at a congressional level. I encourage you to read it. I also urge you to get involved.

Contact your Senators and members of Congress, especially those who are on the House and Senate Judiciary committees, and push for patent law reform. Only then can we defeat the trolls and build great things without the looming risk of business shakedowns and frivolous lawsuits.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Alan Schoenbaum.

Alan Schoenbaum is Special Counsel for Rackspace.

Prior to joining Rackspace in 2005, he was a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in San Antonio, Texas. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in corporate and securities law and mergers and acquisitions. Throughout his legal career he has represented public and private growth companies, venture capital funds and their portfolio companies. Alan received his B.A. in English and his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin.


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2 Comments

While any system is subject to abuse, small companies turn to patent licensing firms because they level the playing field against big companies with armies of lawyers.

avatar Victim on July 23, 2013 | Reply

If only that were true.

avatar Bob on July 25, 2013

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