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Patent Reform Takes a Step Forward

Patent Reform

Apartment companies and their service providers have been targeted by abusive “patent trolls” who threaten legal action and demand fees for alleged infringement without evidence to back them up. The “Innovation Act” passed through House Committee on June 11. The bill was passed by the full House during the last Congress and is focused on addressing patent abuses, but does not fully cover demand letters. The “PATENT Act” was also passed through Senate Committee earlier this month and would comprehensively address patent enforcement, including letters that demand a specific amount for settling an alleged infringement. However, even those who supported the measures say more work must be done and changes will be made.

NAA/NMHC are urging Congress to pass legislation that brings greater transparency and efficiency to patent regulation and enforcement. We are also asking lawmakers to strengthen disincentives to fraud and abuse, including predatory demand letters. Claims have involved off-the-shelf technology products, web-based marketing and transaction platforms, and even routine construction practices.

There is bipartisan support in Congress to curb the problem. But differences remain over several aspects of the issue, especially litigation procedures, standards of evidence and payment of fees by the losing party to an enforcement action. Lawmakers must balance disincentives for abuse with opportunities for legitimate claims. This also needs to be done in a way that won’t limit research and development for the pharmaceutical industry and a range of other sectors.

 

Provided by NMHC as part of the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Program