A bill meant to protect small companies against patent trolls was removed from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda, thus wasting efforts of a year.

Who or what is a “patent troll”?

The term “patent troll” is typically used to describe a company whose
main business is to buy a lot of inactive patents, threaten to file lawsuits against supposed violators and then offer to settle for less than the cost of a full lawsuit.

What was in the bill?

The bill would have required a judge to determine early in the process whether a given patent was valid. It also had provisions in it for more disclosure about who owned a patent and who would benefit from a lawsuit.

Who would the bill have protected?

The bill would have protected retailers, technology companies and small businesses.

Why did it fail?

There was a requirement in the bill for the patent plaintiff to put up a bond to cover the possible payment of the winning side’s legal fees. This turned to be a contentious issue and both sides could not reach an agreement.

Who is responsible?

Those who supported the bill say that the pharmaceutical companies and universities, along with the trial lawyers, are the prime culprits, accusing them of heavy lobbying to kill the bill.

What is next?

In the best case, the legislation will be delayed. The worst scenario is where both sides never ever reach an agreement, leaving many businesses at risk from frivolous lawsuits.