At a Senate hearing today, EFF Staff Attorney Alex Moss gave formal testimony [PDF] about how to make sure our patent laws promote innovation, not abusive litigation.
Moss described how Section 101 of the U.S. patent laws serves a crucial role in protecting the public. She urged the Senate IP Subcommittee, which is considering radical changes to Section 101, to preserve the law to protect users, developers, and small businesses.
Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, courts have been empowered to quickly dismiss lawsuits based on abstract patents. That has allowed many small businesses to fight back against meritless patent demands, which are often brought by "patent assertion entities," also known as patent trolls.
At EFF, we often hear from businesses or individuals that are being harassed or threatened by ridiculous patents. Moss told the Senate IP Subcommittee the story of Ruth Taylor, who was sued for infringement over a patent that claimed the idea of holding a contest with an audience voting for the winner but simply added generic computer language. The patent owner wanted Ruth to pay $50,000. Because of today’s Section 101, EFF was able to help Ruth pro bono, and ask the court to dismiss the case under Alice. The patent owner dropped the lawsuit days before the hearing.
We hope the Senate takes our testimony to heart and reconsiders the proposal by Senators Thom Tillis and Chris Coons, which would dismantle Section 101 as we know it. This would lead to a free-for-all for patent trolls, but huge costs and headaches for those who actually work in technology.
We need your help. Contact your representatives in Congress today, and tell them to reject the Tillis-Coons patent proposal.
TELL CONGRESS WE DON'T NEED MORE BAD PATENTS