At a congressional hearing today, EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri gave formal testimony about patent demand letters and the harm these letters cause to legitimate businesses. Ranieri outlined the discouraging process that allows demand letters to thrive: the Patent Office issues vague and overbroad patents; patent trolls acquire these bad patents and send unfair and deceptive demand letters; and legitimate businesses, without the resources to fight back, end up paying unjustifiable licensing fees. It’s long past time to reform this severely broken system, and we’re pleased that lawmakers seemed ready to tackle this complex problem.
EFF has been fighting abuse of the patent system for years—doing everything from getting bad patents invalidated, to working to stop bad patents from issuing in the first place, to trying to fix imbalances in the law. In just the last few weeks, EFF announced that it’s representing a photo hobbyist attacked by a patent bully that wanted a license fee for running an online “vote-for-your-favorite-picture” poll and released its “Defend Innovation” whitepaper—two-and-a-half years' worth of research on the challenges facing innovators under the current patent regime, along with concrete suggestions of measures policymakers should take in the coming year.
It seems that conventional wisdom is finally catching up to something that innovators have known for a long time: our patent system isn’t serving creators, it’s hurting them. Join and tell Congress to take action and pass desperately needed reforms today.