Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

Main Street Coalition Seeks Patent Litigation Reform

In a letter to Congress today, the Main Street Patent Coalition called for comprehensive common sense patent reform legislation. The group includes nearly twenty industry associations (including NAR) and companies that represent small, main street businesses across the country and is dedicated to stopping patent abuse from trolls.

“Congress has an opportunity before it to grow the American economy and to stand with small, main street businesses,” said coalition manager Michael Meehan. “Small businesses are the economic engine of this country and the current system is allowing them to be targeted and abused by patent trolls armed with poor quality patents and a flawed path toward review and resolution. These abuses constitute a serious threat to the tens of thousands of companies and workers our members represent and to the American economy as a whole.  Now is the time to act.”

The letter specifically calls on Congress to:

  1. Eliminate trolls’ ability to hide behind multiple shell corporations:  Require patent owners that threaten and sue to disclose who is really lurking in the shadows and will financially benefit from the scheme.
  2. Disarm trolls by improving patent quality and providing a way to fight bad patents:  Fully fund the Patent Office so there is more scrutiny of patent applications.  Expand inexpensive post-grant review opportunities so trolls think carefully before threatening Main Street with patents that never should have been approved. Trigger automatic post-grant reviews of patents abusively exploited by trolls.
  3. Make it easier to punish trolls that send fraudulent and abusive shakedown demand letters:  Sharpen FTC authority to stop fraudulent and deceptive demand letters.
  4. Protect end users from troll lawsuits based on infringements by intermediary manufacturers and producers:  Require trolls to sue the party that is actually responsible for infringement, not the end users who had no input into the product.
  5. Make trolls pay when they sue companies frivolously and stop runaway litigation costs:  Require courts to assess sanctions against trolls that file baseless lawsuits.

The Main Street Patent Coalition members include: National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, The Emob (online retailers), American Hotel and Lodging Association, National Grocers Association, International Franchise Association, Application Developers Alliance, National Association of Realtors, Retail Industry Leaders Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants, American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Gaming Association, American Bankers Association, Credit Union National Association, Independent Community Bankers of America and U.S. Travel Association

Visit NAR's Patent Litigation Reform page

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