State AGs lobby for Senate patent reform

State attorneys general are lobbying on the Senate to pass patent litigation reform.

In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees sent this week, 42 attorneys general expressed support for Congressional attempts to limit abuse of the patent litigation system and pushed for provisions that would give state consumer protection authorities more jurisdiction over "patent troll" activity — bringing or threatening to bring frivolous patent infringement lawsuits. Additionally, the state officials met with Senate staff Tuesday.

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The push from state attorneys general comes as the Senate is considering a bill from Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Last year, the House passed the Innovation Act, authored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

In the letter, the attorneys general said they "recognize the importance of pending Congressional legislation on this issue" and "are generally supportive of structural federal patent litigation reform which would create an environment in which abusers of the patent enforcement system cannot thrive."

The group of state officials called on the Senate to include language that would explicity live state-level consumer protection authorities the ability to bring enforcement actions against patent trolls.

The letter also asked the Senate to require more transparency in and give state courts jurisdiction over demand letters, or the letters patent trolls sent that include deceptive threats of legal action.

"We look forward to working with you in the effort to deter the bad actors who are exploiting the system for undeserved gain," the attorneys general said.

According to a Judiciary aide, Leahy is currently working with others on his committee, including ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), to incorporate other provisions into his base bill. Leahy expects to list the bill for Committee consideration soon, the aide said.