My letter to the Senate RE Patent Trolls

Dear Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley, Chairman Rockefeller, and Ranking Member Thune:

We, the undersigned, are inventors, entrepreneurs, investors, and concerned citizens. We build, invest in, and use new businesses and technologies. We create jobs and keep our economy moving forward.

We urge you to push forward and support comprehensive legislation that tackles the growing problem of patent trolls: entities that prey on businesses, inventors, and end users. Patent trolls take advantage of vague patents and the exorbitant costs of litigation (from discovery costs to lawyers and court fees) to extort money from America’s businesses. And it’s not just large companies that face this threat. In fact, the majority of companies targeted by patent trolls have less than $10 million in revenue. When small businesses face dubious multimillion dollar lawsuits, our innovation economy suffers.

In December, the House took a significant step in passing the Innovation Act with an inspiring, bipartisan majority of 325-91, and the President followed by stating his intention to sign the bill.

Now we are calling on the Senate to follow the House, and the President, and pass a bill that addresses the real dangers of our patent troll problem. The proposed S. 1720 contains strong transparency provisions and will rein in bad-faith demand letters. Though less comprehensive than the Innovation Act, it is an important first step, and it should be moved forward immediately together with other pending Senate bills.

We need to increase transparency in the litigation process, starting with demand letters and patent ownership; we need to control the costs of litigation by, when appropriate, shifting fees and limiting expensive discovery; we need better programs for challenging bad patents; and we need to protect end-users and consumers.

The patent troll problem affects us all—from those of us who create technologies, to those who use and invest in them. We expect a patent system that encourages innovation, and we rely on a robust innovation economy unimpeded by toxic litigation. Patent trolls overshadow both needs, so we urge you to pass meaningful, bipartisan patent reform that will strengthen and protect American innovation.


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