FTC to Congress: Don’t Wait for Us to Pass Patent Troll Legislation

Tech industry still pushing for action

Congress shouldn’t wait for a pending Federal Trade Commission investigation into patent troll practices before passing legislation, commissioner Julie Brill said today during an International CES panel on patent litigation reform.

The FTC last year opened an investigation into patent assertion entities as a follow-up to its 2011 report. But government reports take time and the chances of anything coming out quickly are slim.

You don’t have to walk far at the International CES to know that stopping patent trolls is at the top of the tech industry agenda. Billboards of the CEA’s ads are strategically placed all over the halls; it’s a common theme of CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro’s remarks; and a press conference on the subject is scheduled for later today.

“Reforms to the patent litigation system are clearly warranted. Various provisions in the [congressional] bills under consideration may help to discourage frivolous lawsuits, actions the FTC has long encouraged,” Brill said. “Congress should act with deliberate speed.”

If the FTC’s report brings up additional reforms that need to be made, Congress can act then, Brill suggested. “We hope [the FTC report] will be put to good use.”

But don't hold your breath waiting for it.