LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – When Apple Inc. released its vaunted iPhone in June, critics were intrigued by its cutting-edge form touch-screen technology. Barely a month later, a doctor from Iowa publicly claimed he’d actually come up with the idea first, and he filed a patent-infringement lawsuit.
Apple and other big technology companies have long complained that such suits are frivolous — and are becoming far too commonplace. They’ve taken their case to Congress, which may soon pass legislation intended to rein in patent litigation and its related costs. The House passed a version of the Patent Reform Act on Friday, while the Senate is expected to take up the issue soon.
Passage of patent reform would certainly placate many technology companies, while angering critics who fear a trampling of the property rights of relatively powerless inventors.
But its effect on occupants of the space in-between — the holding companies thriving on gathering patents and enforcing them with lawsuits — is uncertain. Branded by big technology companies as “patent trolls,” for supposedly buying up patents for no reason other than to threaten lawsuits and collect cash settlements, these companies aren’t easily legislated out of existence, attorneys and experts say.
“The legislation will lessen their threat to defendants, but it won’t lessen it to the extent it will go away,” said Bruce Rose, a partner in the intellectual property practice at Alston & Bird LLP in Charlotte, N.C.