Congressional leaders have spoken at length about the economic importance of reducing the rate of frivolous lawsuits filed within the U.S. patent system, but the strongest motion yet may have been introduced this month in a bill co-sponsored by California Representatives Darrell Issa and Judy Chu.
H.R. 2766, tentatively titled the Stopping the Offensive Use of Patents (STOP) Act, focuses in on the USPTO's Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents. Currently, that initiative is being exclusively applied toward assessing the validity of such assets associated with the financial services industry. By broadening the legal language, legislators hope to extend the reach of the patent examination methods to review patents associated with the (increasingly litigious) computer software sector.
"As a patent holder, I know how harmful and expensive these aggressive litigation tactics are for American entrepreneurs," Representative Issa explained. "Instead of spending money on new hires or technology, innovators are faced with millions of dollars in legal fees to resolve [potentially] baseless lawsuits."
As Patent Progress contributor Matt Levy noted, there are currently six bills circulating Congress which explicitly address the issue of frivolous patent lawsuits. The STOP Act is, in many ways, modeled after the Patent Quality Improvement Act introduced by Senator Charles Schumer. However, elements of each may ultimately be combined and condensed into a more comprehensive proposal to be formally introduced at a time when the political climate is most conducive to passage.