Patent trolls are so widely despised that they might actually spur Congress to get something useful accomplished. Ars Technica reports that a bipartisan group of lawmakers has cobbled together a series of proposals aimed at hobbling patent trolls’ ability to extract rents from legitimate businesses. Among other things, Ars says that their proposed legislation “would require patent holders to lay out details about their infringement case early in a lawsuit, and would require the loser of a patent suit to pay legal fees unless they could show that the case was ‘substantially justified.'” The proposal has gained enthusiastic endorsements from not only tech companies that have been targeted by patent trolls but from digital rights activists such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge.
“Patent trolls” is a slang term for patent-holding firms that produce no actual products of their own but instead accumulate large patent portfolios that they then use to sue other companies for allegedly infringing upon their intellectual property. With patent suits increasingly clogging up the United States court system, regulatory bodies such as the International Trade Commission have tried taking steps in recent months to cut patent trolls’ ability to file suits within the U.S. Patent trolls are fighting back, however, and are investing in a big lobbying push to make sure lawmakers hear their side of the story.