COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Add Ohio to the list of states looking to wipe out so-called “patent trolls.”
In May, state Rep. Kristina Roegner, a Republican, introduced House Bill 573. Earlier this week, the bill had its first hearing, before the House Judiciary Committee.
Similar to the dozen or so bills proposed or passed in other states, the 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, could not immediately be reached for comment on the bill.
State Reps. Matt Huffman, John Becker, Louis Terhar, Lynn Wachtmann, Ron Hood, Gary Scherer, John Adams, Mark Romanchuk and Jeff McClain, all Republicans, are listed as the legislation’s co-sponsors.
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