Public Knowledge’s Director of Patent Reform, Charles Duan, will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Thursday, April 16 at 11 a.m. His testimony in the hearing on “The Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act” (TROL Act) will detail the bill’s inadequacies and recommend improvements to ensure it properly protects consumers.
The following may be attributed to Charles Duan, Director of Patent Reform at Public Knowledge:
“Patent demand letter abuses are a real problem for the American people and the economy. The aggressive tactics that some patent asserters use in their letters is reminiscent of the heavy-handed tactics employed by other abusive entities.
“The states have been mindful of protecting their consumers as well. Twenty states have already enacted laws against unfair and deceptive demand letter assertions. These existing laws, in both their overall uniformity and instructive differences, provide a useful perspective as this Subcommittee moves forward with its bill on the same subject.
“However, we believe that this bill must continue to be strengthened in the consumer interest if it is to adequately and properly protect the American people. In particular:
- The states should not be preempted from providing their citizens with stronger, more innovative protections. This bill should serve as a floor, and not a ceiling, so that individual states may address new abusive tactics that arise in the future, rather than being shackled to a law of the past.
- The affirmative defense provision should be tightened to close loopholes that would allow intentional sending of improper demand letters.
- The list of improper acts relating to the sending of demand letters should be supplemented with a catch-all provision to ensure that future abuses are captured by the law.
- The required showings of a “pattern or practice” and of “bad faith” should be removed, as they unduly burden enforcement efforts and do not comport with any of the existing state laws.
“We applaud and thank the Subcommittee for its ongoing efforts in crafting a bill that will protect consumers from the threats that these improper demand letters can cause. However, this demand letter bill is only a small piece of a larger puzzle of patent reform; dealing with abusive demand letters will not solve all the problems with the patent system or even patent assertion practices. In February the Judiciary Committee reintroduced the Innovation Act, which Public Knowledge supports.”
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