Senate Judiciary chairman crafting bill to combat 'patent trolls'

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Numerous business groups have complained to Congress in recent months about "patent trolls"—firms that use bogus patent infringement claims to extort settlements out of companies. 

The firms target companies creating new products, but they also go after small businesses using common technologies such as scanners or Wi-Fi networks. They often have no plans to make products of their own.

Many companies agree to settle because the cost of fighting the charges in court is so high.

"The result of this misuse of the patent system is a drag on our economy," Leahy and Lee wrote in a joint op-ed in Politico on Sunday night. "It also tarnishes the image of legitimate patent holders. This is not the patent system provided for in our Constitution."

The senators said their legislation "will increase the transparency of patent ownership, protect the customer of a patented product when the manufacturer should really be the defendant and improve the process for reviewing patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office."

Numerous lawmakers including Sens. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats' education agenda would jeopardize state-level success Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare health plans | 'Zero tolerance' policy stirs fears in health community | New ObamaCare repeal plan Selling government assets would be a responsible move in infrastructure deal MORE (D-N.Y.) and John CornynJohn CornynSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTucker Carlson: Ruling class cares more about foreigners than their own people Fox's Kennedy chides Chaffetz on child migrants: 'I’m sure these mini rapists all have bombs strapped to their chests' After FBI cleared by IG report, GOP must reform itself MORE (R-Utah) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) have all introduced their own bills to combat patent trolls. The White House also announced a set of executive actions in June to address the problem.

Some House Democrats, however, have expressed concern that some legislative proposals could stifle legitimate patent lawsuits and cut off access to the courts.