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House of Representatives Considering Bill to Stamp Out Patent Trolls

Illustration for article titled House of Representatives Considering Bill to Stamp Out Patent Trolls

While occasionally amusing, patent wars between tech companies are always expensive, often needless, and sometimes stymie creativity. Now, though, the House of Representatives is considering a bill which could help reduce the number of cases we see.

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Ars Technica reports that the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act would attempt to stamp out frivolous patent lawsuits by forcing unsuccessful plaintiffs to cover defendants' legal costs. It realtes specifically to patents cases over computer software and hardware—nothing else. In a news release Rep. Peter DeFazio, who introduced the bill, explained:

"Patent trolls don't create new technology and they don't create American jobs. They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn't create and then suing the innovators who did the hard work and created the product."

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For a detailed report of the strengths and weaknesses of the bill, the Ars Technica report is well worth a read. But it's worth noting that the act will stir up controversy, not least because it would be the first time Congress had ever defined the term "software patent"—which it describes as a patent covering "any process that could be implemented in a computer regardless of whether a computer is specifically mentioned in the patent" .

Even if such issues don't ruffle too many feathers, the bill still faces a long and torturous road before it gets anywhere near being passed. But let's keep our fingers crossed, because the less time companies spend fussing about patent wars, the more time they spend innovating—and that's what we all really want. [EFF via Ars Technica]

Image by eirikso under Creative Commons license

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DISCUSSION

bsbaldwin
Bs Baldwin

This still won't fix the problem of the patent system in the first place, which is that the patent office will put a valid stamp on anything that passes over their desk. Plaintiffs like apple will win when they have a piece of paper that the patent office validated and ip lawyers like koh overseeing the trials.