OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee signed Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s patent troll bill into law over the weekend.
On Saturday, Inslee approved the Patent Troll Prevention Act, which aims to protect small businesses from “predatory” and bad faith patent infringement claims and demands.
“Patent trolls are in business to take money from legitimate enterprises. Their tactics hurt the economy and stifle innovation,” Ferguson said in a statement, following the governor’s action.
“The Patent Troll Prevention Act will protect small businesses and provide my office with enforcement authority to hold these fraudulent trolls accountable.”
The bill had strong bipartisan support. Earlier this month, the state House of Representatives passed the attorney general’s bill in an overwhelming 94-3 vote. It also cleared the Senate in February with a 41-6 vote.
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.”
Ferguson said the trolls’ “aggressive” and “deceptive” tactics have become a growing concern, prompting him to request the legislation -- Senate Bill 5059, sponsored by state Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, and House Bill 1090, sponsored by state Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma.
The Patent Troll Prevention Act will prohibit demand letters that: contain false or deceptive information; are sent by parties who do not have the right to license or enforce a patent; “baselessly” threaten litigation if a fee is not paid; and fail to identify the individual asserting the patent and explain the alleged infringement.
The legislation also provides the attorney general with enforcement authority under the state’s Consumer Protection Act to hold fraudulent patent trolls accountable.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.