“Patent Troll” Bill Put on Hold by Senate

Date: 
06/10/2014
Author: 
Eric Dorman

After much debate between the technology and university research communities, the “Patent Troll” bill will be put on the shelf for the time being. Goldie Blumenstyk of The Chronicle of Higher Education writes that this is both good news and bad news: good news because the problematic bill will not become law, but bad news because the patent troll issue is still a problem.

“Patent troll” is a term for an entity that does not use its patents for products. Instead, these entities sit on their patents and make money from suing or threatening to sue others for patent infringement. While in principle research universities would be in favor of restricting patent trolls, measures offered in deliberation of the bill seemed equally to restrict more legitimate patent holders. One provision noted by Science was to force the losing party in a lawsuit to pay the winner’s legal fees. However, a representative of the Association of American Universities (AAU) pointed out that such a provision would negatively impact small businesses and universities that don’t have high legal budgets to risk in cases of patent infringement.

For now the patent troll problem remains just that, a problem with no obvious solution. Though the bill is shelved at the moment, research universities and others are keeping their eyes on the issue. Read more from Science here.