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back to article US Senator introduces 'Patent Abuse Reduction Act'

US Senator John Cornyn, who represents Texas, has introduced the “Patent Abuse Reduction Act of 2013”. Cornyn says the Bill (PDF, brace for legalese) is intended to have the following effects: “This bill would require plaintiffs to disclose the substance of their claim and reveal their identities when they file their lawsuit; …

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Meh

Finally the light of common sense has been lit.

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Megaphone

Wait for opponents to the bill to come out of the wood

And write down their names. Carefully.

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Re: If you give lawyers weapons

Good points well made sirrah :)

We have to think outside the box now on patents with maybe variable times on patents depending on sector or, to encourage investment, the license to make a guaranteed return on investment before the patent dies (maybe a factor of 10 or 100). In that scenario a £1m investment would allow you to make £100m in profit from it, after that amount is passed the patent dies...

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Re: If you give lawyers weapons

"We have to think outside the box now on patents"

Yep - scrap 'em.

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Meh

A step in the right direction

But to mend the patent process, in the first place, would probably be more effective.

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Re: A step in the right direction

Real substantial reform is always more difficult than nibbling at the edges.

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Re: A step in the right direction

I would like to see a use-it-or-lose-it clause in patent laws and different standards applied to individuals and businesses. What I would like to see is if I, as a person, patent something then as long as the patent is in my name than it is good for the rest of my life. But if a business patents something, it must be use that patent and the patent expires after 10 years. Then I would establish a patent court. This court would be staffed with judges educated in different fields. If a patent claim is credible enough to reach the court, then the court would look at the claim without participation from either party. If a company is found violating a patent, then the court will set a fair and reasonable royalty payment. After this judgment, a corporation can sue another corporation for knowingly violating patents and then, and only then, can a corporation seek past royalties. Nobody will be allowed to use a patent to stop a product from being produced and nobody will be able to stop someone else from using their patent. If a business was found in patent court of stonewalling a request to use a patent, then that patent is nullified.

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Re: Real substantial reform

Particularly given that while there may be broad agreement that the current system is broken, there is likely to be a great variety of opinion about the proper method of correcting it.

For instance, I generally agree with the proposal as presented in this article, but think the bit about loser pays has a great deal more risk than its proponents think it does. I think that because they can initially afford the better lawyers, the abusers are likely to still go after the small fry and score a bonus in that not only do they get money from the small fry, they also get to decrease their expenses for lawyers. I'd much rather see the system be corrected by granting judges more latitude in granting those damages if they have cause to believe the law is being abused. Even at that I would be worried the judges would still show too much deference to either not awarding lawyers expenses or would favor the trolls over legitimate organizations.

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I wonder if MS will get any more Android tax?

They will - I cant imagine this being passed. The US is like a lot of 'democracies' - business rules and capitalism (without all the nasty bits like competition that might make it actually work) is the guidebook.

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It sounds great... if it only effects 'trolls'... but what happens if someone who is actually in the right ends up on the bad side of this law, and from the way it's worded I could see that happening with ease.

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That is what I like about this law, it does not assume the person using the process to do something is in the right.

And it does not assume that the patent holder is a troll.

It lets the trial take place with almost the current rules, and then the looser pays. That encourages the party that would eventually loose out, the wrong doer, to settle out of court to reduce lawyers fees.

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Re: encourages the party that would eventually loose out

You really need to remove the rose colored glasses.

The loser won't necessarily be the troll.

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No idea what any of the politics in the States is

But good luck to them on this one, hopefully they can do their job for once and put the people and society before their own greed and self serving crap.

To tkioz, what happens to the ones on the wrong side of the law?

Well a patient should be pretty specific, and if it is then it will be obvious that they are the owner of the "idea" If a patient is not specific then there are arguments that they should not be able to "own it" as such.

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Headmaster

I read this paragraph carefully and wonder about one thing............

"“This bill would require plaintiffs to disclose the substance of their claim and reveal their identities when they file their lawsuit; allow defendants to hale into court interested parties; bring fairness to the discovery process; and shift responsibility for the cost of litigation to the losing party. These reforms will deter patent litigation abusers without prejudicing the rights of responsible intellectual property holders.”"

.................why the fuck have these basic common sense precautions not been part of patent law all the time? It is truly astonishing that only now are measures such as this being debated - let alone have any certainty of passing. Oh, and while he is at it he could add a condition for the granting of hardware patents - no working prototype to support the application, no frakking patent.

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Re: I read this paragraph carefully and wonder about one thing............ (@Arctic Fox)

"no working prototype to support the application, no frakking patent"

I totally agree with your post, but I'd also add a provision for 'in silico' prototypes (i.e. computer simulations). Otherwise, someone trying to patent e.g. new components for a microchip wouldn't be able to register a patent, as he wouldn't have access to a microprocessor fab. I'd also add that software patents should disappear.

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Happy

@Mephistro: I take your point Mephistro.

I can entirely understand that some hardware patent scenarios would not be properly covered by my (rather ill-tempered :)) definition. As far as your point with regard to software patents is concerned I agree and am of the view that it should be a very time-limited form of copyright protection.

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Re: no working prototype to support the application, no frakking patent.

While I emotionally concur with your impulse, given that it was once required to do just that, I think there are practical reasons outside of the law. IIRC the patent office was running into storage issues related to processing patents when the requirement was still in place.

Perhaps a better place to start would be requiring that the patent clerks examining a given application need to have an engineering degree directly related to the patent request at hand.

And I'd personally like to see some patent categories (business process would be top of my list) eliminated. Not so big on software patents as I think they actually make more sense than software copyrights in most instances (OS/word processors/spreadsheets seem more machine like while Everquest seems more copyright), but concur that having both is a recipe for disaster.

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first step

it sounds like a decent first step, but they really need to raise the bar on what's patentable or not - there are far too many "obvious" patents in the system.

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Re: first step

That is true, there needs to be legislation banning patents on trivial ideas, and setting a higher bar for trivial ideas.

Also for copyrights, the limits that allowed the Disney Empire to be built should be put back in place. The Disney Empire got those limits removed after they had their empire and those limits need to be put back.

Copyrights are important because if patents are weakened trolls will start looking to copyrights, like rounded corners.

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There is no single perfect fix.

If you think the judiciary is corrupt or ignoring the law to favour the local chap, and I agree that happens in the US courts a lot, the solution is fixing the judiciary. You do not fix a broken judiciary by changing patent law.

That's how I see it anyway.

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This sounds good

Looser pays, so if a troll looses against a small manufacturer the troll pays both sides.

And if a big manufacturer abuses a small company's patent, the big company will pay.

Good.

Disclosing names and claims up front are good too. Hopefully legislation like this will become standard around the world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This sounds good

This doesn't work! Big, evil corporation outsources patent trolling to a non-practicing entity or to a shell company who has no revenue. If the troll loses there will be no money left to pay and the big evil-doers will be shielded. See the Microsoft-Nokia-Mosaid triangle.

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Here's an idea....

How about allowing independent third parties to contest any patent on the basis of existing prior art or obviousness, with the loser of the "contest" paying the winner's legal costs plus statutory damages of $1000 to the winner.

Lots of intelligent folks could make a *very* nice living for a while by providing the public service of debunking *tons* of existing crap patents. And, it would go quite a long way towards preempting the filing-for of crap patents in the first place, if there was a better-than-even chance that some punter would come along and call you on it shortly thereafter.

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Anonymous Coward

so what is actually in the bill?

He has been my Senator for way too long. All he has written is puff. The consumer will get screwed on this.

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Megaphone

tax intellectual property!

Like lots of other property taxes

- you/megacorp/smallBiz set the $value and get a taxed as a percentage of that value. You can change $value annually

- for multiple jurisdictions get taxed in ALL of them (tax dodgers get $value=0 for their IP in jurisdictions they avoid)

- court claims cannot be higher than the $value

- license fees cannot be higher than the $value

Even with low percentages (maybe 0.5%) for the taxes that would bring large fiscal revenues IF you claim that your IP has a large value. (example: DeludedMegaCorp claims a patent on corners in the shape of a broken pediment is worth one billion dollars they would pay 5million per year per jurisdiction on that just to keep it up)

One would have to pay tax on the IP for at least a year before it could be considered valid -to avoid submarine patents.

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Re: tax intellectual property!

I've seen this proposed before, for dealing with all types of property - i.e. copyright and trademark as well. Its a fine idea, but the republicans will not consider any sort of new tax, unless it was paired with getting rid of an old tax. That is, dumping the corporate income tax. That can't pass because the democrats won't stand for it! And so it goes...

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FAIL

Dumb idea

It'll screw over small inventors. Let's say you have a 20 person company researching cellular technology and come up with a revolutionary new antenna that's smaller, works across all frequencies, and provides much better S/N ratio.

You file your patent, contact Apple, Samsung, and Nokia about licensing your patent to include your antenna in their phones. They include your antenna in their new products, but don't pay you a dime. So you sue. The way loser pays works, each side has to post a bond big enough to cover the others' costs. Otherwise a patent troll, who by definition has almost no assets aside from the patent, would have nothing to fear from losing a case. The troll's company would be bankrupt - no different than how it works today, so loser pays would not dissuade the troll at all from suing.

How big of a bond can your 20 person company afford? How long can you hold out against companies hiring a fleet of lawyers that bill $500/hour? Hell, it might encourage them to pay their lawyers $5000/hr to play golf, since by bankrupting you 10x quicker they wouldn't need to waste time preparing for a court date you could never hold out long enough to reach.

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I'm always suspicious

Just means one load of lobbyists outpaid the other group this time.

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Patent(ed) Law

Does this Bill have round corners?

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