US FTC Jumps on the Bandwagon to Protect IPR from Patent Trolls

The US Federal Trade Commission has decided on the norms it is going to follow next year. The agency has been given the go ahead to take action against all patent trolls who may be found to be engaging in unfair trade practices. Keeping check on the patent trolls will be the agency’s main agenda even as it works on creating a complete study on the business model used by these trolls so that their modus operandi can be better understood.

Study to be complete next year

The FTC has said that the ongoing study will be complete within the next year. According to patent lawyers in Washington, the FTC has decided to study the motives of these patent licensing firms, which in common parlance are known as patent assertion entities (PAEs) or just ‘patent trolls’ even as it uses the time to enforce new norms on these PAEs as and when they threaten a patent infringement lawsuit against a bona fide patent owner.

The FTC’s study may take a while but the agency’s Commissioner Julie Brill said on Wednesday that there is room for the FTC to start using its power and see that the letter of the law is followed to the last word. The Federal Trade Commission will be seeing to it that unfair practices are barred from the US economy and that the US Congress does its bit to bring in strict legislations that will take strict action on the PAEs.

Patent reforms should be supported, says FTC chief

Patent lawyers and legislators have been saying for a long time now that a reform is in the pipeline and should be enforced soon. Ms. Brill too supported the idea of reform by saying that such changes in the current patent legislations are only warranted and that there should be strict laws in place to make it difficult for patent trolls to earn profits out of threatening a lawsuit which are often frivolous.

Most of the times, companies just end up paying an out-of-court settlement to these PAEs for fear of a loss of reputation or when they want a quick and easy resolution to what can be a long and drawn out legal matter.

No more excess litigation

But in recent times, many big companies have spoken out against patent trolls and taken them on in court, proving that the days of the profit making PAEs are up. However, it is still a nuisance for many organizations to be called to court on frivolous patent matters which can be easily avoided by enforcing stricter laws for filing lawsuits.

Apart from reducing excess litigation, these strict laws will also bring down the losses suffered by the economy due to such frivolous lawsuits. Not to mention the time that is wasted when a company cannot utilize a particular technology to create new and innovative products because the said technology is under scrutiny in the courts.

A year ago, there were talks of legislative measures against trolls but the bill was stalled in the senate by Harry Reid who has done a very good job protecting the president from making any difficult decisions but that will all end soon. Hopefully this time around with the FTC’s help, things will take a turn for the better.