House Judiciary chairman readies tougher 'patent troll' bill

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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 "trolls" 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 would be so high.

Goodlatte's draft legislation from May would limit the kinds of documents that firms could force their opponents to produce during the discovery phase of a trial, a major cost in patent litigation. The measure would allow the manufacturer of a product to intervene to block cases against its customers over alleged patent infringement and would make a series of changes to the Patent and Trademark Office aimed at helping small businesses participate in the office's decisions. 

The lobbyists who attended Thursday's meeting said the new draft included more aggressive fee-shifting provisions. 

Two lobbyists expressed disappointment that the draft does not allow businesses to petition the Patent Office to reconsider whether a technology patent is valid. That provision, which is intended to derail suits based on overly broad or unoriginal patents, is part of a separate patent troll bill from Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA CEO group pushes Trump, Congress on paid family, medical leave Krystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? MORE (D-N.Y.).  

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHorowitz offers troubling picture of FBI's Trump campaign probe Horowitz: 'We found no bias' in decision to open probe Horowitz: 'Very concerned' about FBI leaks to Giuliani MORE (D-Vt.) is working on his own patent troll legislation along with Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators zero in on shadowy court at center of IG report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Five takeaways on Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Utah). 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOn The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA Senate Republicans air complaints to Trump administration on trade deal Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst on trade deal MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE (R-Utah), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Lawmaker seeks to ban ex-members from lobbying until sexual harassment settlements repaid MORE (R-Texas) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) have also introduced bills on the issue. The White House announced a set of executive actions in June to address the problem.

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