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Congress taking on abusive patent lawsuits

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Albany/HV: Congress taking on abusive patent lawsuits
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Congress is taking on abusive patent lawsuits. On Thursday, the House passed legislation that would overhaul the patent litigation system. It’s seen as a major win for many tech companies here in New York. Our Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Geoff Bennett has more.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Washington lawmakers on Thursday took steps toward reining in the recent explosion of patent lawsuits, legal action brought by so-called patent trolls, which are firms or investment groups that don’t actually create products like these, but instead, use their patents to shake down other companies for licensing fees.

“We’ve worked together toward the common goal of comprehensive patent reform for the past decade,” said Virginia Representative Bob Goodlatte, who sponsored the Innovation Act.

The legislation, known as the Innovation Act, would, in part, require patent owners to provide more information about their inventions and also allow courts make the losing party in a lawsuit pay the winner’s legal fees.

Many tech companies welcomed the effort, namely Google, which said on its blog that the bill lets “America’s productive companies focus on creating new products and jobs, not fighting frivolous patent suits.”

But the bill is complex and some members of Congress complained that it was rushed through the legislative process. Others said the bill is extreme and unfairly burdens patent owners.

"We haven't done anything in this bill about the real problem here, which is people who are writing demands on little people out in the stream of commerce and making demands on them before they even get to litigation," said North Carolina Representative Mel Watt.

The Obama administration supports the Innovation Act, which means it could soon end up before the Senate before heading to the president’s desk for a signature.

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