Washington, D.C. - A coalition of entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators have joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Engine Advocacy today in requesting that Congress schedule hearings on patent trolls and the SHIELD Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to quash the rash of patent lawsuit abuse.

In an open letter to the House Committee on the Judiciary, the coalition—including investor Mark Cuban and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian—explains how patent trolls are chilling innovation, which in turn stifles job growth in the expanding tech sector. Researchers estimate that the U.S. economy took at least a $29 billion hit in 2011 due to patent trolls, which make no products but instead assert patents as their sole business model.

"We have a shameful situation in this country, with patents and patent litigation hurting both competition and innovation. That's bad for both consumers and small businesses," said Cuban. "The time for Congress to act is now."

The letter expresses the coalition's support for the SHIELD (Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes) Act, a bipartisan bill from Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Jason Chaffetz that would create real and appropriate consequences for patent lawsuit abuse. Under the Act, if a patent troll loses in court because the patent is found to be invalid or there is no infringement, then the troll pays the other side's legal costs, which often reach into the millions of dollars.

"It's time to force these trolls to take responsibility for the damage they cause with their bogus claims," said Julie Samuels, EFF Staff Attorney and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. "The introduction of the SHIELD Act sends an important message to patent trolls: their business model is dangerous and their days are numbered."

In addition to Cuban and Ohanian, managing directors of prominent venture capital firms the Foundry Group and Union Square Ventures also signed the letter. They're joined by David Cohen, founder and CEO of Techstars, as well as Paul Sieminski, general counsel to Auttomatic, which is the company behind the popular blogging platform Wordpress, among other signers.

For the full open letter:


Julie Samuels
   Staff Attorney and The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

Rebecca Jeschke
   Media Relations Director and Digital Rights Analyst
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

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