This week, EFF joined over 5,600 individuals in a letter (PDF) pressing the Senate for meaningful patent reform—reform that goes beyond the current Senate proposals and provides strong fixes to the patent troll problem.
As we wrote:
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.
Patent reform affects everybody involved in an innovation's lifecycle. The 5,600 individual signers included over 1,500 entrepreneurs, over 750 investors, and over 1000 inventors. Over 150 signers have patents of their own. EFF was joined by the App Developers Alliance, CCA, CCIA, Engine, Foursquare, Public Knowledge, and R Street.
The Innovation Act was a great start and passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the proposed Senate bills are not as comprehensive. Currently, the most popular Senate bill—Sen. Leahy's Patent Transparency and Improvements Act—touches upon a few major reforms, but by no means goes far enough: transparency in ownership, cracking down on bad faith demand letters, and a stay on end-user cases if a manufacturer intervenes. We need more. The Innovation Act, for example, features extremely important fee shifting provisions and delayed discovery costs. Of course, no bill would be ideal without addressing the elephant in the room: poor quality software patents.
A bipartisan group of 17 senators, headed by Mark Udall and Rob Portman, submitted a letter (PDF) last week to Senate leadership urging them to pass patent reform along the lines of the House's Innovation Act. This followed a letter from 42 state attorneys general urging reform along the same lines. The momentum isn't just behind reform, it's behind fixes to the law that would have a meaningful impact on the troll problem.
This is momentum that we are completely behind, and we hope the Senate settles on a bill we can wholeheartedly support.