FRANKFORT, Ky. (Legal Newsline) -- A measure introduced in the Kentucky legislature earlier this month that targets so-called "patent trolls" has cleared the Senate.
The legislation, Senate Bill 116, passed 31-7 Tuesday. It was sent to the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
Those seven senators who voted against the bill include: Walter Blevins, Ray S. Jones II, Gerald Neal, R.J. Palmer II, Jerry Rhoads, Johnny Ray Turner and Robin Webb, all Democrats.
SB 116, introduced by state Sens. Whitney Westerfield and Christian McDaniel, both Republicans, would enable the recipients of bad-faith demand letters to sue those trolls trying to extort money from them.
The bill also would allow letter recipients to recover damages, the "reasonable cost of litigation," including attorney's fees, and exemplary damages in an amount equal to $50,000 or three times the total of the person's damages, costs and fees, whichever is greater.
It is similar to a measure Vermont signed into law last year.
Under the Vermont law, a court can consider as evidence a letter that does not provide the patent number, the name and address of the patent owner and/or assignee, or an explanation of how the target company's products or services infringed on the patent.
The court also can consider if the letter demands payment of a license fee or a response in an "unreasonably short" period of time.
The Vermont law also allows the state attorney general to conduct civil investigations and bring civil lawsuits against violators, and the court may award relief or damages.
Maine is proposing a similar bill to battle patent trolls -- the derogatory term given to some patent assertion entities 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.
Oregon's legislature passed its patent troll bill earlier this week.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at email@example.com.