They See Me Trollin'

Congress Considers Bill That Would Make Patent Trolls Pay, Literally

SHEILD to the rescue.
 Congress Considers Bill That Would Make Patent Trolls Pay, Literally

Seriously, do not fuck with startups.

Seems like just about everyone’s had it up to here with patent trolls, up to and including certain members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ars Technica reports that Oregonian Democrat Peter DeFazio has introduced a bill torturously named “Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes” Act, designed to put a stop to the most blatant instances.

You can call it the SHEILD Act. No, it does not come with either Samuel L. Jackson or an Agent Coulson. Sorry.

The concept is pretty simple (and the bill itself mercifully brief). Any company that files an infringement suit that the court determines is basically B.S. would be on the hook for the defendants’ legal fees. In legalese:

“in an action disputing the validity or alleging the infringement of a computer hardware or software patent, upon making a determination that the party alleging the infringement of the patent did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding, the court may award the recovery of full costs to the prevailing party, including reasonable attorney’s fees, other than the United States.

That would probably inspire some long, hard thought about whether that complaint is really legal.

In his statement introducing the bill, Mr. DeFazio sounds downright miffed at the existence of trolls:

“Patent trolls don’t create new technology and they don’t create American jobs,” DeFazio said in a news release. “They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn’t create and then suing the innovators who did the hard work and created the product.”

Interestingly, as Ars points out, while the Act is limited to computer hardware and software patents, it doesn’t seem to be limited to the most egregious offenders, the “non-practicing entities” that file suit based on technologies they aren’t even using. We can’t help but wonder how such a law would influence, let’s say, the brutal battle currently raging between Apple and Samsung.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com