New Patent Reform Bill Seeks To Recover Costs Of 'Egregious Legal Disputes'

Since the enactment of the America Invents Act (AIA) in September of 2011, the "patent reform" embodied by the AIA has been slowly rolling out. In fact, the bulk of the truly significant changes to patent law are still to come. These changes include the change over to the first inventor to file model in March of 2013, and the kick off of the new post grant patent proceedings next month. With so much change on the immediate horizon it would seem premature to consider further changes to patent law until the last round has had time to take effect.

Evidently at least one Congressman feels that the AIA does not go far enough to combat frivolous "troll" lawsuits. Congressman Defazio of Oregon is sponsoring a bill entitled "Saving High-Tech Innovators From Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2012." The bill proposes that the costs (including attorney fees) of patent lawsuits relating to hardware and software should be recoverable from the Patentee should the court find that the Patentee did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding on the merits. (bill here)

Interestingly, the bill offers a fairly expansive definition of software as "any process that could be implemented in a computer regardless of whether a computer is specifically mentioned in the patent." This definition would seem to encompass a fair amount of processes that have no relation to hardware and software patent disputes.

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