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Government Accountability Office Calls for Improvements in Patent Quality
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About Our Cause

American businesses of all sizes and from all industry sectors are being held hostage by frivolous lawsuits and overly broad claims made by patent trolls. This must change.

The time is now to take back the patent litigation system and return it to its original purpose: fostering innovation and investment that benefits the entire American economy.

Our Stories

American businesses large and small across many industries are being held hostage by patent trolls. These are their stories and why they support patent reform.

  • Roberta Hurley

    Owner of Southeastern Employment Services
    (Based in Connecticut)

    My company helps people with disabilities find employment in the state of Connecticut. About two years ago, I started receiving legal letters from shell companies in Delaware that claimed we were infringing their patent for using the scan-to-email function on our copier and would be fined $1,000 for each of our 75 staff members. I knew I could not afford to pay $75,000, pay my staff and keep my business.

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  • Sidney Van Ness

    CEO of On Call Central
    (based in Kentucky)

    On Call Central was created as a way for doctors to better manage phone calls from patients and colleagues. Today, the company handles high call volume in nearly every specialty of medicine. After On Call Central received threatening communications from patent trolls, I decided to fight back in my home state of Kentucky.

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  • Peter Braxton

    CEO & Founder of Jump Rope, Inc.
    (Based in Illinois)

    Like many entrepreneurs, I started with a simple idea: give people who are tired of waiting in long lines at nightclubs, restaurants, airports or other venues the choice to pay to skip the line. Soon after my company, Jump Rope, launched publicly, we were sued for violating a patent that claims ownership over "a method and system for reserving future purchases of goods and services."

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  • Chris Zenthoefer

    Founder & CEO of ICEdot
    (based in Oklahoma)

    I started my small business to help people in potentially life-threatening situations. Our product is a sensor that mounts on a bicycle, motorcycle or ski helmet and is designed to detect traumatic head impact. This innovation ensures that people who may be incapacitated by a life-threatening injury can receive the medical attention they need.

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  • Kate Endress

    CEO & Co-founder of DITTO
    (Based in California)

    My company, DITTO, solves a simple but vexing question when it comes to buying glasses online: do they fit? In 2012, we launched our service that enables customers to get a 180-degree view of how a pair of frames looks without leaving their home. However, we were sued by a patent troll in 2013.

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  • Jon Kinzenbaw

    President & CEO of Kinze Manufacturing
    (based in Iowa)

    I started my company from a small welding shop in Ladora, Iowa, to a shop that has become one of the largest agricultural equipment companies in America, employing nearly 1,000 people. My company’s innovations are protected with patents, and in the early years I saw the patent system work well for businesses like mine.

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Why Reform is Needed

 A LOOK AT THE HARD NUMBERS.

Who's Affected by the Broken System

This is not just a tech problem. More and more non-tech companies are being harmed by trolls as patented technologies, like software, are the building blocks of modern commerce. Retailers are hit the hardest, followed by automotive industry, financial services, and consumer products. (Patent Freedom)

Our Goals for Reform

Reform abusive demand letters

Require that patent demand letters include truthful, basic information. Patent trolls send vague and deceptive letters alleging patent infringement to demand unjustified payments from innocent individuals and businesses. Vague demand letters should not be used to bully innocent businesses into paying what amounts to protection money.

Make trolls explain their claims

Require patent owners to explain in detail the basis for the alleged infringement when they file a complaint. Current law does not require that a patent holder explain how a patent is infringed, or even identify the product involved, which makes it nearly impossible someone who has been sued to evaluate the case and decide how to proceed.

Protect innocent customers

Ensure that claims between a patent owner and a manufacturer proceed before claims between the patent owner and the customers who use those products. Under current law, anyone can be sued for infringement for simply using a product, system or method. We don’t want to change that. Instead, it simply makes sense for cases against customers to be stayed in favor of cases involving the manufacturer.

Make patent litigation more efficient

Make patent litigation more efficient so that weak cases can be dismissed before expensive discovery. Requiring patentees to explain and judges to decide what a patent means at the beginning of a case—the Markman hearing—narrows the case to the actual legal issues in question, drives early resolutions and avoids unnecessary and expensive discovery.

Stop discovery abuses

Require trolls to pay for the discovery they request beyond core documents so that they cannot run up costs just to force a settlement. Since trolls don’t actually make or create anything, they have few documents to produce and no incentive to be reasonable in their discovery requests. Making trolls responsible for the costs of their discovery requests that go beyond the core documents needed to decide most patent issues will stop unreasonable demands made for negotiation leverage.

Make abusive trolls pay

Require that a losing party who brings a frivolous case pay the other side’s attorney’s fees—and make sure the troll can pay. Trolls currently have few barriers to litigation with no significant costs. A stronger presumptive fee-shifting statute and a mechanism to ensure court ordered fee shifting is enforceable will deter nuisance suits.

Provide less expensive alternatives

Maintain and improve administrative alternatives to litigation. Ensuring access to efficient and fair mechanisms to re-examine questionable patents will reduce litigation abuses and strengthen the patent system.

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