COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - State Rep. Kristina Roegner says a bill she introduced in the spring to combat so-called “patent trolls” most likely will not make it out of Ohio’s legislature this year.
“It is unlikely this year because of the short timetable we have left, but I do intend to introduce it in the next General Assembly,” she said Tuesday. This year’s session ends in December.
Roegner, a Republican, introduced House Bill 573 in May. Last week, the bill had its first hearing, before the House Judiciary Committee.
Roegner said the committee will continue to have hearings to allow proponents and opponents of the bill, and any other interested parties, to testify.
Similar to the dozen or so bills proposed or passed in other states, the Ohio legislation:
- Prohibits any person from making a bad faith assertion of patent infringement, and specifies the circumstances in which a person who owns or has the right to license or enforce a patent does not violate the prohibition;
- Prescribes the factors that a court may consider as evidence that a person has or has not made a bad faith assertion;
- Authorizes a person aggrieved by a bad faith assertion to sue, and specifies the type of damages that a court may award in such an action;
- Permits the state attorney general to investigate an alleged bad faith assertion upon his or her own inquiries or as a result of complaints; and
- Authorizes the attorney general to bring a civil action in connection with a bad faith assertion if he or she believes the action would be in the public’s interest.
The bill specifically outlines what information must be included in “demand letters,” which are letters often sent by trolls in an attempt to enforce or assert rights in connection with a patent or a pending patent.
Such letters -- the crux of the current patent reform debate -- must include the patent number; the name and address of the patent owner or owners and assignee or assignees, if any; and factual allegations concerning the specific areas in which the target’s products, service or technology infringe on the patent.
Also under the proposed bill, a letter cannot demand payment of a license fee or response within an “unreasonably short” period of time.
Generally speaking, a non-practicing entity, patent assertion entity or patent monetization entity purchases groups of patents without an intent to market or develop a product.
In some cases, but not all, the entity then targets other businesses with lawsuits alleging infringement of the patents it bought. Often, these are referred to as “patent trolls.”
Roegner -- who has degrees in mechanical engineering and finance -- said her bill is most similar to Vermont’s, which was signed into law last year.
But she noted that she and fellow sponsors are still working with “interested parties” on the final bill.
“Almost every state has implemented different language, but the intent remains the same in each case,” Roegner said.
Though she has never had any direct dealings with a patent troll, Roegner said she has heard from various industries in the state, including banks, grocers and retailers, who claim they are being negatively affected.
“I was surprised by the vast amount of support during our various interested party meetings, and realized at that time that this is a serious issue in the state of Ohio and that legislation needed to be introduced,” she said, calling the bill “common sense.”
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.