New York, NY (PRWEB) August 21, 2012
American Innovators for Patent Reform (AIPR) is strongly opposed to the “Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2012” a.k.a. the SHIELD Act (H.R.6245) that was introduced last week by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). While the bill claims to “take aim at patent trolls,” AIPR believes it is specifically aimed at American innovators – the independent inventors, universities and small businesses that sue large high-tech companies for patent infringement. The proposed bill’s sanctions would only apply to software and computer-related patents. This Bill can be characterized as “Shield the Infringers Act.”
The SHIELD Act would require the plaintiff in a patent infringement lawsuit to pay the legal costs of the defendant should the plaintiff lose at trial. This is known as the English Rule and it is common in Europe, but foreign to the U.S. judicial system. In America, the tradition has been that each side pays its own legal costs so that all parties – from the wealthiest to the most destitute – can afford to have their day in court. For those who file frivolous lawsuits, there already are penalties in place. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules and Procedures requires that any claim or assertion made by a litigant or its counsel have a basis in fact or law. Plaintiffs and their attorneys who bring frivolous lawsuits can be – and are – sanctioned by the courts under Rule 11. Regarding patent infringement litigation in particular, USC 35 § 285 provides for the award of reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in “exceptional cases” such as the bringing of a frivolous infringement claim.
“With two provisions already in place to address the issue of frivolous lawsuits,” observes AIPR’s founder and President, Alexander Poltorak, “what need is there for lowering the bar on paying the winning party’s legal fees other than to intimidate patent owners and thwart the enforcement of patents against the large computer companies that are the most notorious infringers?”
Alec Schibanoff, Executive Director of AIPR, observes that “Reps. DeFazio and Chaffetz’s presumption is that there is a frivolous patent infringement lawsuit crisis. So let’s look at the facts. The 2011 Patent Infringement Study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers documents that patent infringement lawsuits filed by NPEs (Non-Practicing Entities) were won at trial 63% of the time. With almost two-thirds of patents claims being won by the patentees,” Schibanoff asks, “where is the frivolous patent infringement litigation crisis?”
“The SHIELD Act was drafted by lobbyists for the computer industry oligopoly,” claims Dr. Poltorak. “The bill singles out computer and software patents with the sole purpose of intimidating owners of such patents, making it easier for the computer industry giants to blatantly infringe the patents of innovators such as independent inventors, universities and small businesses. This bill is the 21st Century version of pork barrel legislation!”
American Innovators for Patent Reform urges members of the innovation community and all Americans who support intellectual property rights to contact their Representative and express their opposition to the SHIELD Act.
About American Innovators for Patent Reform
American Innovators for Patent Reform (AIPR) represents a broad constituency of American innovators and innovation stakeholders including inventors, engineers, scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, patent owners, investors, small businesses, and intellectual property professionals such as patent attorneys, technology transfer managers and licensing executives.
AIPR promotes stronger U.S. patents and more vigorous patent enforcement, and opposes any legislation that weakens the U.S. patent system, the driving force behind American innovation and global competitiveness. AIPR advocates a multi-tier patent system, full funding for the Patent Office, automation of the patent application process, and synchronization of patent and copyright laws.
For more information about AIPR, please visit http://www.aminn.org.