Good News, America. We're One Giant Step Closer to Patent Reform!
Good news! Today, the House of Representatives voted 325-91 in favor of the Innovation Act, the best troll-killing bill we've seen yet. And earlier this week the White House put out a strong statement in support of the legislation. All that's left is the Senate, which has promised to take up the issue before the end of this year.
The Innovation Act isn't perfect. It doesn't go nearly far enough to reform the demand letter problem. Its provisions protecting consumers and end-users, while present, aren't as robust as we would hope. And it dropped expanded covered business method review, a provision that would have helped ensure that the Patent Office issues fewer patents for "inventions" that aren't particularly inventive.
But the Innovation Act is nonetheless a huge step in the right direction. It gives defendants tools to fight back, makes ligitation cheaper and includes an important fee-shifting provision, so companies that stand up to the trolls have a chance to recover their fees and costs at the end of litigation. It requires trolls to make their case up front by providing basic information about their patents and the supposed infringement. And it prohibits trolls from hiding behind shell companies.
Today's vote makes clear that policymakers understand that patent trolls impose an unacceptable tax on innovation and that their conduct, which often amounts to little more than run-of-the mill extortion, must be stopped. We got here in no small part because of those of you who helped by making calls, emailing your members of Congress, and using social networks to get the word out. Thank you! And stay tuned: now we head to the Senate.