Heads Up, Patent Trolls: Omnibus Reform Bill Is Moving

Goodlatte could introduce it by next week

An omnibus bill addressing patent troll abuses is likely to be introduced next week, before the August congressional recess. That was the message delivered Thursday to a coalition of lobbyists in a pair of meetings with both chairmen and members of the House and Senate judiciary committees.

House judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told a packed room that he would like to introduce his bill before Congress leaves town at the end of next week. Senate judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) thinks his bill will more likely be delivered soon after the recess. Both are working together on bills that combine the more than half-dozen bills that have been introduced in Congress by lawmakers from both parties.

The commitment from Goodlatte and Leahy came quickly, once congressional leaders realized that the patent troll abuses weren't just a tech issue but were impacting all sectors of the economy. Organized by the Coalition for Patent Fairness, the lobby day on the Hill brought together representatives from many of the 50 organizations that make up what is informally called the Big Tent coalition, including advertisers and retailers, and many other sectors of the economy that haven't been seen as the usual victims of patent abuse. 

"[Goodlatte and Leahy] both told us that this is serious, that a groundswell is building for reform and that they're going to help us," said Dick O'Brien, evp of the 4A's, one of the lobbyists who spoke at the meetings. "The bills are moving."

With bipartisan support, including President Obama who last month issued a set of executive actions, patent trolls (nonpracticing entities that use dubious practices to extort money for frivolous patents), may soon have to clean up their act.