SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) -- The Oregon Senate has passed a bill that would crack down on so-called "patent trolls."

On Friday, the state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1540, 30-0. The legislation has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee.

Patent trolls -- the derogatory term for some patent assertion entities -- are companies that purchase groups of patents without an intent to market or develop a product. The companies then target other businesses with lawsuits alleging infringement of the patents they bought.

SB 1540 would make patent trolling a violation of Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act.

Also under SB 1540, those who have been targeted by a patent troll can sue for attorneys' fees.

The measure is sponsored by Sen. Jackie Winters, a Salem Republican, and Rep. Jennifer Williamson, a Portland Democrat.

"Oregon small businesses have plenty of challenges without worrying about extortion
scams," Winters, a retired small business owner, said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month.

"This type of harassment is something we should actively and aggressively discourage."

Oregon isn't the first state looking to pass such a measure. Maine and Kentucky also are considering similar bills. Last year, Vermont signed into law its own patent trolling legislation.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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