Polis to provide patent perspective

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a former businessman and founder of ProFlowers.com, will testify at a House hearing on patent “trolls” this week.

“I experienced first-hand the challenges of starting and running small businesses, challenges that are exacerbated by the patent trolls praying on our core job creators,” he wrote in a Monday letter to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee while asking to testify.

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“I am hopeful that my testimony would help contribute to this timely debate on how to produce a more robust patent market and a more productive, competitive economy.” 

On Thursday, the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee will take a look at a bill from Chairman Lee Terry (R-Neb.) to put new restrictions on the letters that people send to companies accusing them of violating their patent rights. Those demand letters are often vague but nonetheless force firms to fork over massive settlements in order to avoid costly and lengthy court cases, critics say.

Small companies like coffee shops, grocers and other stores can get wrapped up in the letters targeting widely used technology.

“As an entrepreneur and former small business owner, I have watched with great concern as patent troll operations have grown larger, targeting more and more small businesses,” Polis said in a statement.

Terry’s bill would require the letters include basic information about the patent in question and would empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action against fraudulent letter writers.

Polis will be joined at the witness table by an FTC official, tech company advocates and other legal experts.