Small and independent hotel owners today are facing their ultimate nightmare: an infestation. But the risk to their livelihoods isn’t of the traditional critter-type variety, it’s a 21st century pest: the patent troll.

The hotel industry’s more than 50,000 properties make a direct contribution to the economy. It employs 1.8 million people and generated $163 billion in sales in 2013 alone. As one of the oldest lines of business, hotels thrive today through innovation – whether it's the use of Google Maps on their websites, offering Wi-Fi to their guests, or scanning a photocopy of a guest’s bill to receive via email.


But exterminating this pest is doable. Set for a floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives this month, the Innovation Act does much to protect hotels and all other businesses from patent litigation without undermining the rights of legitimate patent owners.

Most significantly, one of the Act’s reforms will instruct courts to develop detailed guidelines to reign in any out of control litigation costs, specifically within the discovery process. Small and independent hotels like ours often aren’t equipped to interpret the poorly construed allegations, and frivolous litigation ends up costing upwards of $1 million – a staggering fee few if any businesses of our size can survive. As it stands now, nearly $29 billion is drained from the private sector every year because of these patent troll lawsuits.

Notably, the Act will ensure these businesses have a fighting chance against patent trolls. For the companies that are tricked into paying hundreds of thousands in legal fees, the Act would require that the losing party, who truly brings about a trifle lawsuit, pay the other side’s legal fee. Companies now have a chance at reclaiming some of the time and money they lost fighting a patent troll.

Rather than investing and growing their operations, companies are forced to divert valuable resources in fighting frivolous lawsuits in other judicial districts. One of the most helpful provisions of the Innovation Act would make sure patent lawsuits can only be argued and decided in districts where both parties have an established presence.

One of a troll’s greatest weapons is to prey on innocent companies and customers who bought a patent without knowing it may be infringing on someone’s patent. Fortunately, the Act would protect these businesses by ensuring claims between patent trolls and manufactures are addressed before those between trolls and guiltless companies.

Fortunately for businesses, these pesky patent trolls are nearing the end of their lifetime. Even though Washington so often divided by ideological differences, halting abusive patent litigation is an area of strong bipartisan agreement. Congress has an opportunity to pass patent reform in the next few weeks that will have a real and beneficial impact on the hotel industry and other businesses across the country. While the senate is still debating provisions of its patent reform bill, if passed in this month, the Innovation Act would help root out the patent trolls that threaten to plague the hotel industry and broader economy with baseless and frivolous lawsuits.

Congress should not let another opportunity to reform our patent system slip through the cracks. We can’t afford to postpone legislation that will help American businesses invest in the things that matter—offering consumers comfort and convenience and connecting businesses and communities. It’s time to pass the Innovation Act so businesses can continue to innovate and create jobs, instead of fearing innovation because of preying patent trolls.

Bryan is the chief operating officer at the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn in Arizona. Mosley is the president  and CEO of Groveland Hotel at Yosemite National Park in California. Smith is the owner of Sebasco Harbor Resort in Sebasco Estates, Maine.