February 24, 2014
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that he has joined 41 other state attorneys general in submitting a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees, voicing support for bipartisan federal legislation to address Patent Assertion Entities, more commonly known as "patent trolls."
A patent troll does not invent or manufacture products, but instead acquires patents with the sole purpose of asserting patent infringement claims. Small businesses, retailers, and non-profit organizations have been targeted with demands for licensing fees for software or the use of components found in common products, such as printers, scanners, and wireless routers. Defending patent infringement lawsuits is often prohibitively expensive for small businesses, leading many businesses to pay the fees rather than litigate claims in court.
"Too many entrepreneurs are paying fees to patent trolls rather than investing in expanding their businesses," said Koster. "This anticompetitive activity stifles innovation and hurts our economy."
Federal legislation recently passed by the United States House of Representatives requires greater clarity in patent demand letters and includes patent litigation reforms to restrict patent trolls. The attorneys general also support preserving state authority to protect citizens from patent trolls.
In 2013, Koster and other state attorneys general voiced support for the FTC’s announced plans to conduct a wide-ranging investigation of known patent trolls. The proposed investigation is designed to arm federal and state consumer protection authorities, such as the FTC and state attorneys general, with valuable information as they explore legal action against abusers of the patent system.
Koster encourages consumers, including small business owners, to report patent trolling to the Attorney General's Office by calling 1-800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov.