This week, Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio and Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz introduced a new bill taking aim at the patent litigation confusion that has enveloped segments of the technology sector. The Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act looks to pave a way for inventors to recoup their expenses in the event they are the target of unsubstantiated infringement claims.
"In an action disputing the validity or alleging the infringement of a computer hardware or software patent, upon making a determination that the party alleging the infringement of the patent did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding, the court may award the recovery of full costs to the prevailing party, including reasonable attorney's fees," the proposed legislation states.
Consumer Electronics Association senior vice president Michael Petricone was among the first to come out in support of the bill, suggesting that frivolous infringement claims have become an "anchor" weighing down American innovation.
Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Julie Samuels dug a bit deeper into the logistics of the proposal, praising the congressmen for embracing the fee shifting model that has been a staple of copyright law for some time.
Too often, smaller entities have been forced into compromising positions out of fear that they may not have the financial backing to effectively defend their intellectual assets. However, this "loser pays" framework could be a real deterrent to some of the more under-handed techniques employed by patent plaintiffs in recent years.