Trade groups from across the economy are asking members of Congress to take up the issue of patent demand letters.
Demand letters are those sent by patent-holding entities to companies and individuals, accusing the recipient of patent infringement. The letters typically demand payment for the use of that patented technology and threaten litigation.
“Demand letters are central to the patent troll problem,” the 21 groups — representing mobile app developers, retailers, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, hotels and others — told members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in a letter Tuesday.
In making the patent infringement claims, the letters “state vague or hypothetical theories of infringement, often overstate or grossly reinterpret the patent in question, and, in some cases, make allegations of infringement of expired or previously licensed patents.”
Despite the questionable claims, “recipients often simply settle these nuisance claims rather than run the risk of protracted litigation in federal court,” the groups said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced patent litigation reform legislation last month, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is expected to introduce companion legislation in the coming weeks.
The Senate Commerce subcommittee on Consumer Protection is holding a hearing Thursday on patent demand letters.
The trade groups commended Goodlatte and Leahy for their work to reform the patent system but “strongly” urged them to address patent demand letters.
“The fight for patent litigation reform and demand letter relief is truly a main street issue impacting businesses and not-for-profits in communities across the country.”