Don’t look now, but Congress may be about to agree on a policy matter.
Just hours after House judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) set Wednesday for a markup of his bill to curb patent troll abuses, Senate judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced their own bill.
Like Goodlatte’s Innovations Act, Leahy and Lee’s bill, The Patent Transparency and Improvements Act, has similar provisions to protect businesses and innovators that are being targeted by patent trolls.
“When small businesses in Vermont and across the country are threatened with lawsuits for offering WiFi to their customers or using document scanners in their offices, we can all agree the system is not being used as intended,” said Leahy, who collaborated with Goodlatte on the bill.
Both the House and the new Senate bill would increase transparency in patent ownership and provide some extra protections for those being sued by patent trolls. But Leahy and Lee’s bill also includes reforms to demand letters, the highest priority of advertisers and the Stop Patent Abuse Now Coalition.
“We will now pull out all the stops to ensure that [assertion letter reform] remains in the final version of the combined Senate/House version of the bill,” said Dick O’Brien, evp of government relations, the 4A’s.
In addition to his bill, Leahy has also pressed the White House to assist in addressing the problem of patent trolls and has pressured the Federal Trade Commission to use its current consumer protection authority to go after demand letters and unfair and deceptive.
Just about every industry in the nation, from advertisers to retailers to banks and Internet companies have lobbied hard for patent troll legislation, giving lawmakers the confidence they need to move toward a new law.
Though the momentum behind the bills is strong, it’s still unlikely that Congress, with only about 11 legislative days left on the calendar, can get a final bill out of both chambers before the holiday recess.