50 Groups Coalesce to Fight Patent Trolls

Victims of dubious patent claims aren't just usual suspects

To impress on Congress that those who stake patent claims, aka patent trolls, are using dubious practices to wreak havoc on nearly every business sector, a diverse group of 50 organizations—including the five advertising and marketing associations that formed the Stop Patent Abuse Now coalition—have joined forces.

Following a meeting Tuesday at the National Retail Federation attended by more than 100 representatives of the organizations, the group, called the Big Tent Coalition, plan to deliver a letter on Wednesday to the four House and Senate leaders to coalesce their support behind the more than half a dozen bills that have been introduced in Congress this year alone.

"We want them to understand it's not just the usual suspects worried about this patent issue," said Dick O'Brien, an evp at the 4A's. "As SPAN started to gear up, we discovered that other companies and groups were also working on patent troll reform, usually with a more specialized focus than our more compressive one," he added.

Among the groups that signed the letter are organizations representing myriad business sectors, including retail, financial, auto, media, Internet, restaurant, hotel, technology and electronics.

The breadth of the organizations could be a big factor in getting Congress to move this year. As House judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) previously told Adweek, "We need more industry groups." Now Goodlatte, who is working with Senate judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on comprehensive patent legislation, has them. 

Not just some insignificant nuisance, trolls (businesses that don't sell any products or services), last year sued more than 7,000 companies and sent thousands more threat letters, the coalition said in the July 17 letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). More than half of the lawsuits were filed against non-tech companies, the groups said.

"Managing frivolous patent suits unfortunately has become an expensive distraction for a large cross section of American businesses. Instead of focusing on innovation, job creation and economic growth, we are forced to deal with legal games that have serious consequences," the coalition wrote.

Recommended articles