Trade Commission Pilot Program Aims to Curb Patent Trolls

In an effort to help curb frivolous lawsuits initiated by patent assertion entities (also called “trolls”), the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) says it will require some companies to prove they have a significant domestic presence. As part of the commission’s new pilot program, six administrative judges will determine within 100 days whether or not companies that file infringement suits do in fact have the necessary U.S. production, research or licensing credentials.

“Previously, the ITC would establish that a company met the ‘domestic industry’ standard at the same time it determined if a patent or patents had been infringed — at the end of the case,” reports Business Insider. “The pilot program was praised by the ITC Working Group, which includes representatives from Avaya Inc., Broadcom Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Google Inc., Hewlett Packard Co., Intel Corp. and Oracle Corp.”

“Addressing this will require more than administrative fixes, but the pilot program is a step forward that could help limit costly and unnecessary patent cases,” said Matt Tanielian, executive director of the ITC Working Group.

“The percentage of patent infringement lawsuits filed by patent assertion entities, or patent trolls, has increased dramatically in the past few years,” explains CNET. “According to a study conducted last year by a patent law professor in California, about 62 percent of all patent lawsuits filed in 2012 were brought by PAEs, up from about 29 percent two years earlier.”

Intellectual property issues have become a hot topic with tech companies in recent years, which has led to the stockpiling of patent collections. Notable patent battles have played out between Apple and Samsung, Google and Oracle, Apple and HTC, and others.

“The ITC became a favorite venue for companies to pursue patent litigation after a 2006 Supreme Court decision called eBay v. MercExchange, which made it harder for district courts to ban sales of products for patent infringement,” notes Business Insider.

Related Stories:
Government Report Outlines New Plans for IP Enforcement, ETCentric, 6/21/13
Tech Companies Support Federal Move Against Patent TrollsETCentric, 6/5/13