NEWSROOM

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition Supports Senators Calling for Stronger Patent Quality Oversight and Improve Patent Quality 

 

August 7, 2014

The Main Street Patent Coalition is pleased to support Senate efforts calling for improved patent quality and oversight at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Senators from 5 states sent a letter today to the U.S. Department of Commerce calling for the USPTO to improve the quality of patents and make the patent examination process more comprehensive.

Read more from our release here

 

Senator Jeff Merkeley (D-OR), Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) send letter to Penny Pritzker, U.S. Department of Commerce on Patent Quality, Pave Way for Innovation

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition Statement on Today's Hearing with Members of the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property

July 30, 2014

"The Main Street Patent Coalition thanks the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property for holding today's hearing; we hope to see the same level of resolve and commitment to controlling the patent troll crisis by their colleagues in the Senate as soon as possible," said Michael Meehan, MSPC manager.  "We also want to thank Deputy Director of USPTO, Michelle Lee, for echoing our support for legislative changes targeted specifically at improving patent quality and fairness, addressing the abusive practices of trolls and reducing litigation costs for defendants in frivolous cases. Main Street businesses will remain targets for abusive patent litigation until serious and comprehensive legislative action moves forward."

Read more from our release here

 

OPINION: Main Street won't give up against patent trolls

Main Street businesses across Utah and the rest of the country are feeling the pinch from patent trolls. This year, in one single day in April, patent trolls filed 184 lawsuits across the U.S. in a race against the much-needed protections the Senate’s patent reform legislation would have provided to businesses.

More than 6,000 patent lawsuits were filed in 2013 alone. Despite these figures, the Senate chose special interests over Main Street and shelved the bill in late May, leaving businesses like mine at the mercy of patent trolls. But Main Street isn’t giving up and, fortunately for us, both U.S. senators from Utah have been particularly active in the fight against the trolls. (Rebecca Jensen, Deseret News, July 23, 2014)

For full text of this opinion piece by Rebecca Jensen, President of UtahRealEstate.com, please click here.

 

OPINION: DietGoal demolished, but more trolls are on the loose

App developers, restaurants, hotels, nutrition advocates and foodies should celebrate  “DietGoal is Dead Day,” after a federal court in New York invalidated a patent that DietGoal Innovations, LLC relied on to apparently bludgeon dozens of companies into paying millions of dollars in unjustified patent royalty payments.  (Jon Potter, The Hill, July 17, 2014)

For full text of this opinion piece by Jon Potter, President of the App Developers Alliance in The Hill, please click here.
 

 

MAIN STREET MEMBERS SEND LETTER TO SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, MANUFACTURING & TRADE: Letter  to Chairman Lee Terry and Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky on TROL ACT

July 9, 2014

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition has Concerns of Bias as Prominent Patent Reform Opponent is Set to become New Director of the U.S. Patent Office 

June 30, 2014

The Main Street Patent Coalition expressed its deep concerns today about the planned appointment of Phil Johnson as Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Johnson was among the most vocal and powerful opponents of recent patent reform proposals in the Senate, which would have provided much-needed protections against patent trolls for Main Street businesses. The bill was shelved in the Senate Judiciary Committee in May.

The appointment of Mr. Johnson comes at a time when businesses find themselves increasingly at risk for frivolous, crippling lawsuits; patent trolls filed 18 percent more lawsuits last year than the one before. 

Read more from our release here

 

LTE: Reform the patent system

Small employers are doing everything they can to grow their businesses in our slowly recovering economy. In communities across the U.S., it’s the jobs small businesses provide and the consumers they serve that keep our recovery moving. However, small employers are facing a growing threat that many know little about until it’s too late: patent trolls.

Patent trolls are companies that don’t make or sell anything; they just own patents, often general ones covering commonly used technology such as Wi-Fi. They target businesses, demanding annual fees for use of that technology, or immediately file lawsuits claiming the business has infringed on their intellectual property.

For full text of this letter written by Mary Timmel, Midwest Outreach Manager from Small Business Majority in The Sioux Falls Argus Leader, please click here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Software Patents

June 19, 2014

In response to the Supreme Court decision Alice v. CLS Bank International, 13-298, that ruled that software developers can’t get patent protection simply for taking an abstract idea and implementing it on a computer, Michael Meehan, the spokesperson from the Main Street Patent Coalition made the following statement:

“We are encouraged by the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision.  It signals that our highest courts recognize there is something wrong with the current law.  These types of predatory business tactics should not be available in the first place, and we hope Congress does not expect the courts to continue to carry this load when it’s all too clear legislation is needed.  Overbroad and abstract patents like the one invalidated today provide the ammunition for patent trolls to prey on businesses. This patent, like many others available to patent trolls, should never have been issued in the first place. This decision further proves that the time to reform the patent system is now, and that reform should include measures to improve patent quality in order to relieve businesses and the courts from claims involving unwisely issued patents. Most American businesses do not have the time or money to fight these frivolous lawsuits that can take years and millions of dollars to resolve in the courts. Congress must act to pass comprehensive patent reform that will stop extortionist claims for all Main Street businesses.”  

Read more here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Senate Chooses Special Interests Over Jobs on Main Street - Full Page Ad in Politico Vowing to Keep Up the Fight for Patent Reform

June 5, 2014

The Main Street Patent Coalition today ran a full page ad in Politico expressing its disappointment that the Senate Judiciary Committee was unable to work together to bring critical relief to Main Street businesses across the country from extortionist patent trolls costing our economy billions and our communities jobs.

“Patent trolls are costing our economy billions and main streets across the country jobs,” said Michael Meehan, MSPC manager. “Millions of businesses continue to be at risk. We need patent reform and we will continue to work toward that goal.”

Read more from our press release here.  

 

OPINION: I beat the patent trolls; so should the US Senate 

When the U.S. Senate put patent reform on hold, I got angry. Here was another chance to pass some much-needed legislation, and our elected representatives were just throwing the opportunity away.

The debate about patent reform isn’t just about the wasteful lawsuits that cost the economy almost $80 billion a year (though if it was just about that, that’d be enough of a problem in my book).

For me and my co-workers, it’s personal. We’ve suffered the consequences of Congress’ inaction on a problem that burdens businesses, kills jobs, and discourages investment and innovation. (Kevin O’Connor, The Hill, June 3, 2014)

For full text of this opinion piece by Kevin O’Connor, CEO of FIndTheBest in The Hill, please click here

 

OPINION: Alabama also needs patent troll legislation at the federal level

You may have never heard of patent trolls, but they pose a very serious threat to Alabama's banking community.

Patent trolls, also known as non-practicing patent assertion entities, have created a lucrative industry for themselves by extorting money from law-abiding businesses. By sending a "demand letter," trolls threaten companies with frivolous patent infringement litigation, but agree to not file the suit only if the company will fork over a hefty "licensing" fee. In most cases, an infringement has never occurred, yet the company is not financially equipped to defend itself. Consequently, for the cost of mailing a threatening letter, patent trolls amass millions at the expense of our local businesses. (Scott Latham, AL.com, May 26, 2014)

To read the full text of this opinion piece by Scott Latham, President & CEO of the Alabama Bankers Association in AL.com, please click here

 

AMERICAN HOTEL & LODGING ASSOCIATION: Senate Patent Reform Bill Postponed Indefinitely; Hotel Industry Expresses Concern

May 22, 2014

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the sole national association representing all segments of the 1.8 million-employee lodging industry, issued the following statement regarding the Senate Judiciary Committee's failure to vote on the Patent Transparency and Improvement Act:

"The hotel industry is very disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee was unable to move forward on legislation to curb the extortive actions of patent trolls," said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president/CEO. "It shouldn't be this hard. The House of Representatives has already overwhelmingly passed a broad, bipartisan bill, and President Obama has made his strong support very clear. Almost every industry, including the hotel industry and Main Street businesses of all kinds, agree that something must be done, and support in the Senate spans the entire political spectrum. The Senate Judiciary Committee must not lose sight of the big picture and let this legislation die. Only when the Senate does its part and reform becomes a reality, will hotel owners, operators and investors be able to stop wasting time and resources defending their business from patent trolls, and turn their full focus toward enhancing the guest experience, building new hotels and welcoming travelers from around the globe."

Senator Leahy's bill was aimed at patent trolls that profit by bringing and threatening to bring frivolous patent infringement lawsuits against end users, including hotels. The House passed its own patent reform bill, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA) Innovation Act, at the end of 2013. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is meeting Thursday to discuss a new bill that focuses on the demand letter aspects of patent reform. AH&LA, a member of the Main Street Coalition, will continue its push to modernize the patent system so hoteliers can continue to grow their businesses and create jobs.

 

CREDIT UNION NATIONAL ASSOCIATION:  Leahy removes patent 'troll' bill from vote calendar

May 22, 2014

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a primary sponsor of a Senate patent reform bill, announced Wednesday that he is taking his bill off the voting agenda of his committee. The legislation would, in part, fight the patent law abuses of "trolls" that send questionable patent assertion letters to extract settlements from credit unions and other businesses. 
  
 In early April, Leahy sent out a notice to postpone a scheduled markup of the bill known as the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act (S. 1720), but made it clear that he wanted to move forward with a vote this spring. However, on Wednesday he said, "Because there is not sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal, I am taking the patent bill off the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda." 
  
He added, "If the stakeholders are able to reach a more targeted agreement that focuses on the problem of patent trolls, there will be a path for passage this year and I will bring it immediately to the committee." 
  
Credit Union National Association Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said in response to the announcement, "CUNA will continue to work with our partners in the Main Street Coalition and with others who share the view that patent troll abuses should be stopped, and we appreciate Chairman Leahy's willingness to take this issue up as soon as a path forward materializes." 
  
Leahy has had CUNA's support for the demand-letter language within S. 1720, which would aid credit unions and other businesses that have been targeted with financial threats through the demand letters of the bad actors--the so-called patent "trolls."

 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CONVENIENCE STORES: Senate Judiciary Yanks Patent Reform Off Agenda

May 22, 2014

 Yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) tabled patent reform from the committee’s agenda, dealing a setback to the technology industry and other groups that have pushed for curbing “patent trolls.”

“We have been working for almost a year with countless stakeholders on legislation to address the problem of patent trolls who are misusing the patent system,” said Leahy in a statement. “Unfortunately, there has been no agreement on how to combat the scourge of patent trolls on our economy without burdening the companies and universities who rely on the patent system every day to protect their inventions. We have heard repeated concerns that the House-passed billwent beyond the scope of addressing patent trolls, and would have severe unintended consequences on legitimate patent holders who employ thousands of Americans.”

Leahy said the bill would be put back on the agenda once stakeholders “reach a more targeted agreement that focuses on the problem of patent trolls.”

Late last month, the Big Tent Patent Coalition, of which NACS is a member, sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing its support of the patent reform bill. More than 200 groups signed the letter.

 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOME BUILDERS: Statement from NAHB Chairman on Senate Judiciary Committee Withdrawal of Patent Reform Bill

May 22, 2014

Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del., issued the following statement after the announcement that Senator Leahy has withdrawn patent reform from the Senate Judiciary Calendar for the foreseeable future: 

“NAHB is greatly disappointed in yesterday’s decision to withdraw patent reform from the Senate calendar, therefore allowing patent abuses to continue at the expense of small businesses across the nation.  

“Patent trolls continue to attack small businesses in home building and other industries with intentionally vague and misleading demand letters designed to do little more than extort money. The failure of Congress to take up patent reform has given trolls the green light to continue these deceptive practices. 

“It is critical to reform the current patent system and stop the abuses. NAHB and other members of the Main Street Patent Coalition, a national, non-partisan coalition of organizations dedicated to stopping patent abuse, will continue to push for meaningful reform, and we call on our legislators to fix this broken system.”

 

AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION: Senate Stalls Effort to Curb Frivolous, Costly Patent Litigation Disappointment to Gaming Industry

May 21, 2014

American Gaming Association (AGA) Vice President of Government Relations Whitaker Askew issued the following statement on today’s decision to remove patent reform legislation, from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda:

"Today’s decision to indefinitely stall progress toward achieving meaningful patent litigation reform is not only disappointing, but is a step backward that will harm millions of American businesses.
 
“Today, unfortunately only the patent trolls win – and the U.S. casino gaming industry, along with the millions of other businesses that serve as our nation’s economic engine, will continue to fall victim to the abusive, frivolous and costly litigation asserted by patent trolls.
 
“Without reasonable legislation that once-and-for-all curbs frivolous patent litigation, main street American businesses will continue to feel unnecessary pain. Looking ahead, the American Gaming Association will continue the fight to help rein in such practices that serve as a hindrance to economic growth, innovation and job creation.”

 

NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION: National Restaurant Association Statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Failure to Move Patent Reform Package Forward

May 21, 2014

(Washington D.C.)- Today the National Restaurant Association issued the following statement regarding the failure of the Senate Judiciary Committee to move a meaningful patent reform package forward:

“We are dismayed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy’s decision not to move forward on patent reforms that would benefit millions of restaurants and main street businesses across the country.

 We believe a majority of the Senate supports reform and we are extremely disappointed that the Judiciary Committee has backed away from expeditiously moving a patent reform package forward.

“Every day the Senate fails to act, patent trolls continue to prey on small businesses in industries like ours, stifling our ability to create jobs and promote innovation which ultimately hurts our customers.

“Defenders of the status quo are standing in the way of progress not only on meaningful reforms- but on every day business decisions being made regarding how employers utilize customer-facing, experience-enhancing technologies in their establishments.

“Added demand letter transparency combined with meaningful patent litigation reforms would change the economic incentives that drive damaging and frivolous activity targeting our members. Given the strong bi-partisan House support of the Innovation Act and the President’s call for patent litigation reform, we are hopeful the Senate can take the next steps towards moving meaningful legislation forward.”

Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, National Restaurant Association

 

NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: Retailers Disappointed in Senate Judiciary Committee

May 21, 2014

The National Retail Federation issued the following statement from Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French on the announcement that Senate Judiciary Committee has shelved the patent reform bill:

“Withdrawing the patent reform bill is a victory for patent trolls.

“We are deeply disappointed that groups representing the status quo have continued to stall and stymie attempts at effective patent reform.

“Even though this is a loss for Main Street merchants, end-users will continue to work with those committed to strengthening and reforming our patent system. Small business owners, retailers, grocers, banks, coffee shops and restaurants need patent relief now, and without Senate action the problem will only grow worse.

“We will not rest until the bipartisan compromise ironed out by Senators Schumer and Cornyn is brought before the Judiciary Committee for consideration.

“Let’s hope this setback marks the last victory for patent trolls.”

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. www.nrf.com

 

SMALL BUSINESS MAJORITY: Decision to Stall Senate Patent Legislation Disappointing for Small Employers

May 21, 2014

Statement from John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority, on Sen. Patrick Leahy’s decision today to take the patent reform bill off the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda

The small business community received some disappointing news today when senators decided to shelve legislation that would have reformed our patent system and protected small businesses from the predatory practices of “patent trolls.” Patent assertion entities, commonly referred to as patent trolls, are companies that don't make or sell anything; they just own patents, often vague or generalized ones covering commonly used technology such as WiFi, then demand annual fees for use of that technology—or immediately file lawsuits against companies they claim have infringed on their intellectual property.

Small business owners can be significantly harmed when patent trolls exploit loopholes in our patent system, and they support comprehensive reform. Polling recently released by Small Business Majority found that by a 3:1 margin, small employers support legislation that would change the rules and regulations surrounding patent infringement claims to reduce frivolous lawsuits brought by patent trolls.

It’s crucial our patent system promote innovation and entrepreneurialism, while protecting small business owners from frivolous litigation. We hope lawmakers keep small businesses top of mind and work together to find a solution to this growing problem.

 

MAIN STREET TO SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, MANUFACTURING & TRADE: Main Street Supports Chairman Lee Terry and Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky in Demand Letter Reform
 

PRESS RELEASE: Senate Chooses Special Interests Over Jobs on Main Street

Business Disappointed Legislation was Stalled Costing our Economy Billions

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 21, 2014) – The Main Street Patent Coalition today expressed its disappointment in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s inability to provide essential relief to coffee shops, mom and pop grocery stores and American Main Street businesses across the country. The failure of Committee members to pass legislative reform and take a stand against patent trolls means millions of small businesses will continue to be at the mercy of trolls.

“We are disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee couldn’t get the job done,” said Michael Meehan, MSPC manager. “Without reasonable and essential reform, millions of businesses will continue to be at risk until Congress puts trolls out of business. The choice of special interests over small businesses was the wrong decision, but we aren’t giving up the fight.” 

Read more from our press release here

 

Many groups have come together around the push for meaningful patent reform. One of our sister organizations, Engine, has put together a great website, Fix Patents, to help fight patent trolls by making it easy to contact your Senator - either by calling or tweeting. Tell them they need to take a stand, and put meaninginful patent reform up to a vote NOW.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Calls for Patent Reform Now – Sends Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee

Washington, D.C. (May 12, 2014) – The need for patent reform is not in question and Main Street America is counting on Congress to pass bipartisan, meaningful reforms now. The Main Street Patent Coalition, representing millions of businesses across the country, sent a letter today calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to modernize the patent system so businesses can continue to grow and create jobs instead of spending valuable resources fighting patent trolls.

“Patent trolls cost our economy billions and force main street businesses to stop adding jobs or worse close their doors,” said MSPC manager Michael Meehan. “The Main Street Patent Coalition is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass patent reform that protects our businesses from frivolous lawsuits and move quickly to get a comprehensive package to the Senate floor.”

The letter, sent today to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) in part states:

“On behalf of the millions of businesses we represent, we call on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to approve meaningful patent reform now."

Read more from our press release here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Vermont Senate Unanimously Supports Patent Reform, Senator Leahy's Efforts

Washington, D.C. (May 10, 2014)– By unanimous vote the Vermont Senate passed a resolution encouraging Congress to pass strong patent reform legislation to address the growing impact of patent trolls on business and the economy. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the sponsor of the patent reform bill being considered in Congress.

“The need for patent reform is not in question and the passing of this resolution is another strong bipartisan signal that it is necessary for main street business,” said MSPC manager Michael Meehan. “Now is the time for patent reform and we are encouraged to see the state of Vermont stand behind Senator Leahy as he works to pass strong bipartisan legislation to address this urgent and growing problem.”

The resolution voted on yesterday specifically, “supports congressional efforts to eliminate patent abuse in the form of bad faith patent assertion and the need for strong federal legislation, including fee shifting, more stringent pleading standards, and limitations on the initial discovery process.”

Read more from our press release here.

 

EDITORIAL: 'Patent Trolls' Damage Businesses, Economy

Rheo Brouillard knew he was in the crosshairs of a "patent troll."

Brouillard is the president of Savings Institute Bank & Trust in Willimantic. Other small banks here and around the Northeast had been getting letters claiming patent infringement. Brouillard got his letter on Jan. 3, 2013.

The one-page missive from a New York law firm representing Automated Transactions LLC says, in so many words, we own the patents on the system your ATMs use. Pay us in two weeks or we will sue you, as we have done to others. (Tom Condon, The Hartford Courant, May 7, 2014)

For full text of this editorial written by Tom Condon from The Hartford Courant, please click here.

 

OPINION: Patent trolls are threatening my business, and yours

Washington has been moving this year on patent reform, with Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court all acknowledging the patent troll crisis. I couldn't be happier: Two lawsuits from patent trolls cost my Internet company more than $4 million to win—equivalent to 5% of this year's revenue.

Problems with the patent system plague tech companies and threaten end-users, such as coffee shops offering Wi-Fi or retail stores using a store-locator map. In 2011 patent trolls, firms that buy up broadly written patents not to use them but instead to make infringement claims against other businesses, cost U.S. companies $29 billion, not including the rerouting of resources, delays or inefficiencies that come with a claim.

The time is right for patent reform. The House has passed a solid bill in December; now it's the Senate's turn. After months of delay, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday plans to mark up its companion legislation, the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act. (Matt Blumberg, Crain’s New York Business, May 7, 2014)

For full text of this opinion piece by Matt Blumberg, CEO of ReturnPath and former Chairman of the Direct Marketing Association in Crain’s New York Business, please click here.

 

OPINION: Senate should act against patent trolls

Austin's SXSW interactive festival has become one of the premier venues to preview the technologies of tomorrow. As many of the nation's brightest minds, creative thinkers and successful entrepreneurs gathered to connect and share ideas on emerging technologies recently, it was litigation, rather than innovation, that dominated the conversation — specifically, how to combat the persistent menace of “patent trolls,” the digital extortionists of the Internet era.

Patent trolls are companies that make their money by suing people rather than providing goods and services in the economy. Trolls wait until an entrepreneur has invented something — an app, a mobile Internet platform, a website, even a business idea — and then bogus lawsuits alleging patent infringement start flying. (Michael Berkerman & Van Lindberg, The San Antonio Express-News, April 30, 2014)

For the full text of this opinion piece by Michael Beckerman, Internet Association President & CEO and Van Lindberg, vice president of Intellectual Property at Rackspace in The San Antonio Express-News, please click here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: More than 400 Businesses Sign Letter Calling for Patent Reform Now

More than 400 signatories including restaurants, stores, hotels, grocers, realtors, banks and other main street businesses from across the country, along with the Main Street Patent Coalition and others sent a letter today calling on Congress to support bipartisan efforts and pass comprehensive patent reform legislation now.

“Main street businesses are calling for patent reform because of the constant threat and barrage of lawsuits and abusive demand letters brought by patent trolls that effect business’ ability to create jobs and grow the economy,” said MSPC manager Michael Meehan. “The Main Street Patent Coalition encourages support for the bipartisan compromise bill being worked on by Senators Schumer and Cornyn and their colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

The letter, with more than 400 signatories was sent today to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) and in part states:

“Patents are bedrock to the American innovation economy, but when they are used by patent trolls to extort American businesses, Congressional action is unquestionably necessary. Today, abusive patent litigation is killing small companies, chilling employment and growth of all companies, and stifling the economies of a wide range of industries nationwide. Instead of investing in new jobs and services, businesses must fight frivolous claims and overly broad lawsuits made by patent trolls against a range of technologies and commonplace ideas.

“On behalf of millions of small businesses, startups, innovators and Main Street America, we urge your strong support for bipartisan legislation that provides urgently needed relief and reform, and encourage your continued efforts until the job is done and the bill becomes law.

Read more here

For a copy of the letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) please click here

 

AUDIO: SBM’s Arensmeyer Says ‘Patent Trolls’ Must Be Stopped

John Arensmeyer, chief executive officer of Small Business Majority, says Congress must pass legislation to protect owners of small businesses who hold legitimate patents from frivolous lawsuits charging patent infringement brought by “patent trolls,” also known as patent assertion entities. He discusses a new SBM survey which shows that by a three-to-one margin small employers support the Innovation Act which would change patent infringement claim legislation to stop abuses by patent trolls – companies that don’t make or sell anything and use generalized patents to launch lawsuits or demand license fees. Arensmeyer speaks with Bloomberg’s Kathleen Hays and Vonnie Quinn on Bloomberg Radio’s "The Hays Advantage”. (Bloomerg Radio, April 29, 2014).

To listen to John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority on Bloomberg Radio, please click here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Poll Shows Main Street Wants Patent Reforms - MSPC Urges Bipartisan Efforts to Fix Patents Now

The Main Street Patent Coalition is urging Congress to support bipartisan patent reformsand pass legislation to protect main street businesses now. A new poll released today by Small Business Majority shows small businesses support patent reform in huge numbers.

“Small businesses support patent reform because abusive demand letters and lawsuits brought by patent trolls are a real threat to economic growth and job creation,” said MSPC manager Michael Meehan. “The Main Street Patent Coalition encourages support for the bipartisan compromise bill being worked on by Senators Schumer and Cornyn and their colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

“Growing a business has enough challenges. Fighting patent trolls who use broad claims on bad patents shouldn’t be one of them,” said Allen Gutierrez, National Executive Director, The Latino Coalition. “On behalf of the more than one million Latino business owners in the TLC nationwide network, we encourage Congress to work toward a bipartisan solution and pass a comprehensive patent reform bill now.”

The poll shows small business owners overwhelmingly support patent reforms including:

77 percentsupport requiring patent trolls to sue the party that is actually responsible for infringement, not the end users who had no input into the product such as WiFi at a cafe, bar codes at the grocer or ATM’s at credit unions and banks.

73 percentbelieve patent trolls should be deterred from attacking small businesses in the first place by penalizing them for filing fraudulent patent assertions or sending abusive demand letters.

77 percentsupport requiring more transparency in patent lawsuits by requiring plaintiffs to disclose who the owner of a patent is before litigation, so that it is clear who stands to benefit financially from the lawsuit.

82 percentsupport the creation of new judicial rules to reduce the costs of discovery in patent litigation, so that high legal fees do not force main street businesses to settle out of court when they don’t need to.

61 percentagree the loser in a frivolous patent case should pay the winner’s fees and support a provision that would allow courts to require the loser in a frivolous patent case to pay the winning side’s fees and costs.

By a 3:1 margin,small employers support the Innovation Act.

Read more from our press release here.

Full national report from The Small Business Majority is available here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: 73-Percent of Small Businesses Support Demand Letter Reforms

Washington, D.C. (April 30, 2014) – Nearly three-fourths of small businesses support demand letter reforms according to a new poll by Small Business Majority. The Main Street Patent Coalition is urging Congress to support bipartisan patent reforms and pass legislation to protect main street businesses now.

“For a small businesses getting a demand letter is really scary,” said Kristen Jarnigan, Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association. “They have a goal of running their businesses and building their business going forward, not fighting patent trolls.  Let there be no doubt, this is hurting small businesses today in Arizona and across the country.”

The polling shows, nearly three-fourths or 73 percent of small business owners believe patent trolls should be deterred by penalizing them for filing fraudulent patent assertions or sending abusive demand letters and 76 percent believe courts should impose financial sanctions against patent trolls that file baseless lawsuits.

76 percent of Minnesota, California and Nevada small business owners believe patent trolls should be deterred by penalizing them for filing fraudulent patent assertions or sending abusive demand letters.

82 percent of Nevadasmall businesses think courts should impose financial sanctions against patent trolls that file baseless lawsuits. 76 percent of Minnesota small businesses and 73 percent of California small employers agree.

Read more from our press release here

Full national report from The Small Business Majority is available here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Poll Shows Nevada Main Street Businesses Strongly Support Patent Reforms

A new poll released today by Small Business Majority shows small businesses in Nevada and across the country support patent reform in huge numbers. The Main Street Patent Coalition is urging Congress to support bipartisan patent reforms and pass legislation to protect main street businesses now.

Read more from our release here.

Full report of the Nevada poll from The Small Business Majority is available here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Poll Shows Minnesota Main Street Businesses Strongly Support Patent Reforms

A new poll released today by Small Business Majority shows small businesses in Minnesota and across the country support patent reform in huge numbers. The Main Street Patent Coalition is urging Congress to support bipartisan patent reforms and pass legislation to protect main street businesses now.

Read more from our release here.

Full report of the Minnesota poll from The Small Business Majority is available here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Poll Shows California Main Street Businesses Strongly Support Patent Reforms

A new poll released today by Small Business Majority shows small businesses in California and across the country support patent reform in huge numbers. The Main Street Patent Coalition is urging Congress to support bipartisan patent reforms and pass legislation to protect main street businesses now.

Read more from our release here.

Full results of the California poll from The Small Business Majority is available here

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: Main Street Businesses Call for Patent Reform - New Poll Shows Small Businesses Threatened and Strongly Support Reforms

On Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 11am EDT / 10am CDT / 8am PDT, The Main Street Patent Coalition along with coalition member Small Business Majority and others will discuss the critical need for patent reform for main street businesses and release a new poll on the impact of patent trolls on small businesses. With the Senate back in session, MSPC will also be launching a new round of television and print ads in DC. 

For more information on this tele-press conference call, please click here.

 

EDITORIAL: Stop the patent shakedowns

It's difficult to find anyone who believes that patent trolling is good for the economy or good for society.

The practice, in which entities buy up weakly worded patents and attempt to extort money from as many legitimate companies as possible, is an abuse of the American intellectual property system. Since patent litigation is extremely costly, many companies choose to settle with the trolls rather than fight a long legal battle. It's a shakedown that costs businesses billions of dollars each year - money that would be better spent on innovation or customer service. By that same token, patent trolling has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry. Patent trolling started out by threatening technology companies, but the trolls have since expanded into all sorts of industries - and their chutzpah is breathtaking.

"Eight of our members were hit by a troll about an element of software in their home-banking systems that the troll said was based on a 1984 patent," said Diana Dykstra, the chief executive officer of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. "We've had credit unions that were sent letters demanding thousands of dollars for having ATMs." Dykstra and other trade associations and companies are supporting S1729, a U.S. Senate bill that would offer some targeted reforms of the legal framework around the patent system. (The Editorial Board, The San Fransico Chronicle, April 25, 2014)

For the full text of this editorial by The San Francisco Chronicle, please click here

 

OPINION: Patent trolls hurting economy

The Latino Coalition (TLC) is a nationwide organization with a network representing more than 1 million businesses. Since our inception our mission has been to help Latino business owners, some of whom are first generation Americans, reach their “American Dream.” Recently our members have expressed concern due to an unforeseen barrier that has popped up across the country and is creating a challenge for them achieving their full potential and economic growth.

That barrier to economic empowerment is frivolous patent lawsuits from patent assertion entities (PAEs), more commonly referred to as patent trolls. I have heard horror stories of patent troll abuse from the kinds of businesses I'm in touch with on a daily basis, whether it is hotels, restaurants, realtors or retail stores — almost no business in today's economy is immune to the threat. These demands are not coming from businesses that use their legitimate patents and have every right to protect their ideas — but from opportunists or “trolls” who collect patents solely for the purpose of profiting off of litigation. (Hector Barreto, San Antonio Express-News, April 15, 2014)

Read the full text of this opinion piece by Hector Barreto, chairman of The Latino Coalition, please click here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: MSPC on the Hill: Main Street Calls for Comprehensive Patent Reform Now

Washington, D.C. (April 7, 2014) – The Main Street Patent Coalition hosted a meeting today on the Hill to discuss patent reform priorities for main street business and pending patent reform legislation. 

MSPC members called for patent reforms in front of Senate and House staff, reporters and guests. “Patent trolls are a hindrance to creating jobs, economic growth and innovation,” said Whitaker Askew, V.P., American Gaming Association. “We need patent reform, we need to do it right and we need to do it now.”

Read more here

 

PRESS RELEASE:  UT Main Street Business, Tech Talk Patent Reform with Senator Hatch

Lehi, UT (April 4, 2014) – The Main Street Patent Coalition (MSPC) and the Utah Technology Council hosted an in-depth discussion with Senator Orrin Hatch in Lehi, Utah today about the need for Congress to pass comprehensive patent reform now and protect Utah's small businesses and economy from patent trolls.  

Senator Hatch is a long-time advocate for patent reform and a member of the Judiciary Committee where patent reform legislation is currently being marked up.

“As Utah’s business community continues to try and grow and create good-paying jobs in communities across the state, they continue to be put at risk by patent trolls," stated Senator Hatch. "This is an issue that is no longer just hurting large established businesses, it is hurting mom and pop shops, home industries, and businesses large and small. It is an issue we must deal with and I’ve introduced legislation to do just that. I appreciate the many high tech and business leaders I was able to join with today to discuss the challenges patent trolls present to our economy and look for solutions together. "

Read more here.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Business Hits Airwaves in Minnesota Calling For Patent Reform

Main street business has taken to the airwaves in Minnesota calling on Congress to pass comprehensive patent reform now and protect small businesses and economy from patent trolls. 

The new TV ad, paid for by the Main Street Patent Coalition started airing in the Duluth-Superior, Mankato, Minneapolis and Rochester markets today. The ad features Philip Tadros, Owner of Bow Truss Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Tadros said that running his business is a 24-hour job, and he worries about every detail.

“As a small business owner I don’t need one more thing to pay for or worry about, it’s hard enough to make it as it is,” said Tadros. “Patent trolls are a threat to my small business and hundreds of thousands of others across this country. We need to fix this problem, we need patent reform.”

Both Minnesota Senators Klobuchar and Franken are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee where patent reform legislation is currently being marked up. The ad asks Minnesotans to contact their Senators, thank them for standing up for Minnesota business and encourage them to support comprehensive patent reform.

Patent trolls are targeting restaurants, retail, grocers, hotels, banks, and even local coffee shops for their use of common technologies like Wi-Fi and office scanners. Minnesota small business owner Bob Ten Eyck of Ten-E Packaging got a demand letter from a patent troll last year for scanning and emailing documents. He fought back with the help of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. Both the Attorney General and Bob participated in an MSPC event a few weeks ago in St. Paul calling for patent reform. Bob was recently featured on Minneapolis ABC station, KSTP-TV saying of patent trolls, “I just don’t understand why people can’t earn their money honestly and legitimately.”

 

MAIN STREET TO SENATE JUDICIARY: Letter to Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA)

 

OPINION: Michael Makin: Senate should take aim at patent trolls

In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama declared 2014 would be a year of action. Action on our economy. Action on inequality. And yes, action on patent reform, as more and more frivolous lawsuits are threatening America’s job creators.

Patent trolls aren’t just threatening big tech companies, they pose a threat to the livelihoods of small town business owners, coast to coast and here in Rhode Island. These trolls do not believe that getting ahead and being successful requires hard work and creativity. Rather, they file lawsuits against entrepreneurs, small businesses, and end-users for violating vague patents that should never have been granted in the first place. These targets are not criminals, yet they’re being bullied by shell companies and greedy lawyers, who hold them for ransom with costly litigation and steep settlements. (Michael Malkin, The Providence Journal, April 3, 2014)

For full text of this opinion piece by Michael Malkin, CEO of the Printing Industries of America, please click here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Wave of Support for Patent Reform Grows – Main Street Patent Coalition Adds More Voices Calling for Protection from Patent Trolls Now

The Main Street Patent Coalition (MSPC) is growing and gaining momentum as more and more main street businesses are lining up in the fight against patent trolls. In the past few weeks Small Business Majority, The Latino Coalition, National Association of Home Builders and the Printing Industries of America have all joined MSPC in calling on Congress to pass comprehensive patent reform now.

“We are honored to have more main street businesses stand with us and encourage Congress to pass comprehensive patent reform,” said Michael Meehan, MSPC spokesperson. “Main street businesses across America are providing services and products, creating jobs and building our economy. Patent trolls are a threatening our small businesses with deceptive demands and costing main streets billions – the time for patent reform is now.”

Read more here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Business Goes On Air Calling For Patent Reform Now: Main Street Patent Coalition New TV AdLaunches Today

Main street business has taken to the airwaves asking Congress to pass comprehensive patent reform now and protect America's small businesses and economy from patent trolls.  

The new ad, paid for by the Main Street Patent Coalition started airing in the Washington, DC market today. The ad features Philip Tadros, Owner of Bow Truss Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Tadros said that running his business is a 24-hour job, and that he worries about every detail.

“As a small business owner I don’t need one more thing to pay for or worry about, it’s hard enough to make it as it is,” said Tadros. “Patent trolls are a threat to my small business and hundreds of thousands of others across this country. We need a fix. We need patent reform.”

Read more here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: MN Small Business and Attorney General Call on Congress to Pass Patent Reform Now

St. Paul, MN (March 27, 2014) – The Main Street Patent Coalition (MSPC) hosted an in-depth discussion in St. Paul today about the need for Congress to pass comprehensive patent reform now and protect Minnesota's small businesses and economy from patent trolls.  

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, joined with local businesses calling for patent reform, “We need Congress to act on patent reform now or the problems with patent trolls will keep getting worse.”

Read more here

 

OPINION: Three Ways That Congress Can Help Stop Patent Trolls

Who would have thought that everyday business practices like scanning documents would be the target of patent lawsuits?

In 2012, patent trolls sued more non-tech companies than tech companies, costing the U.S. economy $80 billion in litigation costs. Now is the time for comprehensive patent reform, not just for tech but for Main Street businesses too.

The real estate industry, for example, was caught off guard in 2011, when CIVIX-DDI sued the Multiple Listing Service for infringing its patent on “systems and methods for remotely accessing a select group of items from a database.” As a result of this patent infringement lawsuit, a number of MLSs have been required to pay millions of dollars in licensing fees to the patent holder. (Steve Brown, Forbes, March 26, 2014)

For full text of this opinion piece by Steve Brown, President of the National Association of Realtors, please click here.

 

VIDEO: Fight Over Patent Trolls Heating Up (NBC Connecticut)

Legislators are making progress in the fight against a practice said to be draining billions from businesses both large and small.

Those businesses are targeted by companies often called “patent trolls.”

Last year, the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters showed you a woman who stood up to them, and now she has some powerful people joining her cause.

Earlier this month Roberta Hurley of Old Lyme got a rare opportunity to speak her mind to members of Congress in Washington. (Len Besthoff, NBC Connecticut, March 17, 2014)

For video and full text of this article please click here.

 

OP-ED: Patent Trolls Kill Economic Growth

As the president of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association, I advocate for businesses across the state. One of my jobs is to ensure that our elected officials are doing what they can to support economic growth.

Patent trolls are a serious threat to retail businesses all over the country and our representatives in Congress need to take action to protect those businesses. That’s why we’ve joined the Main Street Patent Coalition, along with our national counterparts and organizations from across the country, to speak out in favor of comprehensive patent reform. (Tom Phelan, CT News Junkie, March 16, 2014)

For full text of this op-ed in the CT News Junkie by Tom Phelan, President of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association, please click here.

 

OPINION: Patent Trolls Targeting RI Retailers & Main Street Businesses

Trolls seem like a topic safely consigned to a fairytale, but for Rhode Island’s retailers, restaurants, and other businesses, they’re a serious and growing problem. These new trolls – called patent trolls – are costing jobs, hurting consumers, and are taking an $80 billion bite out of the economy each year.

Patent trolls are nameless, faceless entities that don’t actually make anything, but instead threaten businesses by alleging infringement of vague or poorly-worded patents. Several of the most common practices used by retailers here in Rhode Island have been targeted by patent trolls, such as placing store locators on their websites or using barcodes. Just about every retailer in the country uses these technologies, but that hasn’t stopped patent trolls from demanding millions from them for the privilege. Other common practices targeted by trolls include offering online menus, providing Wi-Fi to customers, or even scanning documents and then emailing them. (Paul DeRoche, Go Local Providence, March 15, 2014)

For full text of the op-ed by Paul DeRoche,  Executive Director of the Rhode Island Retail Federation, please click here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition Hosts Patent Reform Discussion in Arizona

The Main Street Patent Coalition (MSPC) and the Arizona Technology Council hosted an in-depth discussion in Phoenix today about the need for Congress to pass comprehensive patent reform now and protect America’s small businesses and our economy. 

Small businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and retail stores are often the target of patent trolls. These small businesses are being forced to spend money fighting patent trolls instead of hiring new workers or growing their businesses. Patent trolls directly cost America’s main street businesses $29 billion in 2011.

Read more here

 

OPINION: Patent troll protection needed for businesses

In recent conversations with Iowa business owners, the topic of “trolls” has come up again and again. These trolls are no joke — they have cost our economy half a trillion dollars over the last 20 years, $320 billion of that in the last five years alone.

The trolls Iowa businesses are concerned about are all too real: so-called “patent trolls” that threaten main street businesses using vague or poorly worded patents. These companies cripple our economy, costing us jobs and putting a tax on small main street businesses. (Jessica Dunker & Jim Henter, The Gazette, March 10, 2014)

For full text of this op-ed by Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, and Jim Henter, president, Iowa Retail Federation, please click here

 

MAIN STREET TO SENATE COMMERCELetter to Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV and Ranking Member John Thune, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation             

 

EDITORIALStop patent trolls

Patent “trolls” don’t live under bridges but in shady law offices. They are maliciously suing hundreds of businesses nationwide, including about 20 companies, so far, in Rhode Island.

Patent trolls are really pirates operating on Main Street rather than the high seas, and deserve to be stopped by legislation at the federal level (Editorial Board, The Providence Journal, March 7, 2014)

For full-text of this editorial in The Providence Journal, please click here

 

NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION: National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney: "Patent Trolls" Interfere with Restaurant Industry Growth

March 5, 2014

Today, National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney addressed members of Congress and representatives from restaurants, retail stores, hotels, tech businesses and universities on the importance of patent reform for main street businesses. 

Sweeney provided opening remarks for the Politico Pro sponsored "Great Patent Debate," highlighting the damaging impact that patent assertion entities (PAEs) continue to have on restaurants when they threaten litigation over the use of common technologies like Wi-Fi, web-based nutrition calculators and GPS store locators.

Read more here

 

PRESS RELEASE:  Main Street Businesses, Policymakers Call on Congress to Stop Patent Trolls

The Main Street Patent Coalition, in conjunction with Politico Pro, hosted a discussion in front of small business stakeholders, Hill staff and industry leaders on patent reform and its affect on small, main street businesses today.

A panel with Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) focused on the patent reform bills moving through Congress and focused on the broad bipartisan recognition that a solution is needed quickly to protect businesses. Senator Lee, co-sponsor of patent reform legislation in the Senate said, “This is neither a Democrat or Republican issue. It’s not a liberal or conservative issue. This is simply an American issue.”

That idea was echoed throughout the event as patent reform was discussed in the context of main street businesses which are often the target of patent trolls. These small businesses are being forced to spend money fighting patent trolls instead of hiring new workers or growing their businesses. Patent trolls are racking up bills on the backs of America’s main street businesses, directly costing $29 billion in 2011.

Read more here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition with Politico to Host a Patent Reform Discussion Wednesday, March 5th at 8am at the Newseum

The Main Street Patent Coalition, in conjunction with Politico Pro, will host a discussion on patent reform and its affect on small, main street businesses Wednesday, March 5th, 8am at the Newseum.

Patent trolls are racking up bills on the backs of America’s main street businesses, directly costing $29 billion in 2011. “The Main Street Patent Coalition represents hundreds of thousands of small businesses from across the country that are calling on Congress to pass patent reform and support jobs, economic growth and the American dream. Don’t let trolls close the doors on small business. The time to act is now,” said coalition spokesperson Michael Meehan.

Join the Main Street Patent Coalition and Politico - Wednesday, March 5, 8:00am at the Newseum. For more information, please click here

 

Laurie White and Dale Venturini: Protect Main Street from patent trolls

In recent conversations with business owners here in Rhode Island, the topic of trolls has come up again and again. The term may sound funny but these trolls are no joke — they have cost our economy half a trillion dollars over the last two decades, $320 billion of that in the last five years alone.

While it sounds like something out of a fairy tale, the trolls that Rhode Island businesses are concerned about are all too real. So-called patent trolls threaten Main Street businesses that use vague or poorly worded patents. These attacks cripple our economy, costing us jobs and putting a tax on small Main Street businesses here in Rhode Island and across the nation.

Patent trolls operate in the shadows of our economy. These companies (more politely referred to as “patent assertion entities”) do not make or produce anything. Rather, patent trolls purchase broad or vaguely worded patents and use them as weapons to target businesses with frivolous claims of patent infringement. The trolls do not usually stand a chance in court — instead, they bank on the fact that their targets will not be able to fight back. Most companies sued by patent trolls have annual revenues of under $10 million. For these Main Street companies, it is usually less expensive to settle with a troll than face the legal costs of fighting in court. (Laurie White, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce & Dale Venturini, Rhode Island Hospitality Association, The Providence Journal, February 27, 2014)

For full text of their op-ed in The Providence Journal, please click here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition: 42 State Attorneys General Call for Patent Reform

The Main Street Patent Coalition applauds the efforts of 42 state Attorneys General who today sent a letter to ranking Members calling for patent reform and relief for the main street businesses in their states that are being aggressively targeted by patent trolls.

“The Main Street Patent Coalition applauds the efforts of the Attorneys General in nearly every state for standing up to patent trolls on behalf of main street businesses across the country and for their outspoken support of comprehensive patent reforms,” said coalition spokesperson Michael Meehan. “Congress has an opportunity before it to grow the American economy and to stand with small, main street businesses. The time to act is now.”

Read more from our press release here, as well as the letter from the National Association of the Attorneys General here

 

OP-ED: Consumers pay for patent trolls, action is needed

Hard work and ingenuity are supposed to pay off. It’s the American way. We respect it and celebrate it, but it is meant to pay off for the people who had the ideas and did the hard work to create a useful product or technological innovation.

Unfortunately, some people are looking to shortcut hard work and innovation and have found ways to make money off the hard work of others by doing little more than threatening litigation.

In recent years, a number of businesses and individuals commonly known as “patent trolls” have purchased large numbers of obscure and dormant patents and are leveraging them in a legal strategy to extort money from law-abiding businesses. In many cases, these patents are long out of date or relate to products or technologies that the organizations don’t even use.

Credit unions and other smaller financial institutions are particularly popular targets of the patent trolls. Credit unions, which are nonprofit cooperatives, use their earnings to offer members better loan rates, higher deposit rates and lower fees. Credit unions continue to play a key role in helping consumers through financial challenges. When credit unions and other institutions are forced into frivolous legal actions, it’s consumers who suffer. (Paul Gentile, The Providence Business News, February 24, 2014)

Read more from this op-ed by Paul Gentile from The Credit Union Association of Rhode Island, please click here.

 

Twin Cities radio ad is next step in fight against patent trolls

A campaign to combat abusive patent trolls will soon take to Minnesota’s airwaves.

The Main Street Patent Coalition starts running a radio spot in the Twin Cities on WCCO and KSTP on Monday featuring owners of a mom-and-pop restaurant discussing the threat patent trolls and their frivolous lawsuits pose to small businesses.

The ad is paid for by the National Restaurant Association and the National Retail Federation, part of the recently launched Main Street Patent Coalition that is urging Congress to act on patent reform legislation.

Patent trolls try to collect licensing fees from people or companies they claim are infringing on patent rights. Typically, vague and aggressive demand letters threaten litigation. (Jennifer Bjorhus, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 21, 2014)

For full text of this article by Jennifer Bjorhus in The Minneapolis Star Tribune, please click here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition Talks Patent Reform at White House

Washington, D.C. (February 20, 2014) – More than a dozen members of the Main Street Patent Coalition (MSPC) participated in a patent reform discussion at the White House today – including representatives from the restaurant, retail, credit union, and realtor industries across the country. The MSPC represents hundreds of thousands of small businesses united against a common enemy and in support of a common cause. Today's event was a valuable opportunity for these main street businesses to discuss the damage patent trolls are doing and the tools they need to fight back.

“The Main Street Patent Coalition appreciates the Administration’s continued leadership and outspoken support of comprehensive reforms. Main street businesses have a significant stake in this debate and are committed to the fight against patent trolls,” said coalition spokesperson Michael Meehan.

Read more here

 

National Retail Federation: NRF Lauds Administration Leadership on Patent Trolls

The National Retail Federation issued the following statement today from Senior Vice President David French before his meetings at the White House, where the administration will announce a series of steps aimed at protecting business owners and innovators from patent trolls:

“The National Retail Federation credits the administration’s attention to strengthening the United States patent system and proposing a series of measures aimed at protecting Main Street retailers and restaurants from abusive patent trolls. The president has recognized the economic harm caused by patent trolls, and we welcome the administration’s leadership on this priority. Further transparency, clarity, education and enforcement are all welcome steps for the nation’s business community.

“Patent litigation reform will require tough policy choices and decisions, and ultimately the power rests with Congress to solve the patent troll problem. Congress needs to act this year on patent reform and address the lingering questions around demand letter transparency, the customer stay provision and expanded covered business method patents in order to fully protect local shops and stores from costly and abusive patent troll lawsuits.

“The administration has created a path forward for Congress to address patent trolls and we urge them to take up that responsibility now.”

Read more here

 

OP-ED: Put an end to abusive patent litigation

For eight years, a small self-funded enterprise built a successful company in Vernon, helping consumers buy and sell sports and entertainment tickets. We grew to more than 100 employees and made the Inc. Magazine list of fastest growing small companies. Then one day we knew for sure that we were in the big leagues.

What tipped us off? Our company was sued — along with the world's biggest airlines and ticketing companies — by a company that claimed its patents cover almost every interesting aspect of online ticket purchasing. The patent owner claimed that its patents were so valuable that our company and virtually every enterprise that sold tickets should pay it at least 30 cents per transaction. (Donald Vaccaro, The Hartford Business Journal, February 17, 2014)

Read the full text of this op-ed by Donald Vaccaro from TicketNetwork Inc. here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Retailers, Restaurants, Travel Companies, Realtors and More Call for Comprehensive Patent Reforms

Washington, D.C. (February 11, 2014) – Representatives in the retail, food service, realty, travel, and others met on Capitol Hill Tuesday to voice their concerns about the current patent system and formally announce the Main Street Patent Coalition (MSPC). The group hosted Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), business leaders, patent experts and national trade associations representing America’s leading companies at two patent reform panels to encourage Congress to pass common sense patent reform.

Read more here

 

OP-ED: Patent reform on Main Street

Few issues are more important today than growing our economy and creating jobs on main streets all across America. The restaurant industry is doing its part. As the second largest private sector employer, more than 13 million people work in our industry. But, unfortunately, patent trolls are making it harder to maintain the industry’s growth trajectory.

More politely referred to as patent assertion entities (PAEs), patent trolls do not develop or sell new technologies; they exist to leverage large patent portfolios against operating companies, dragging down our economy, costing us jobs, and putting a tax on our products and services.  In recent years, patent trolls target the restaurant and hotel industries too often for their use of common technologies like Wi-Fi, web-based nutrition calculators and GPS store locators.  These frivolous lawsuits according to a Boston University School of Law estimate, cost the U.S. economy half a trillion dollars in the last 20 years, with over $320 billion of that economic loss occurring in just the last four years. (Sottt DeFife, The Hill, February 7, 2014)

For full text of this op-ed by Scott DeFife of the National Restaurant Association, please click here.

 

ADVISORY: Main Street Patent Coalition to Host Patent Troll Panel - Tuesday, Feb. 11

Main Street Patent Coalition to Host Patent Troll Panels with Representatives from the Restaurant, Retail and Hospitality Industries and More 

Discussion Will Highlight the Impact of Patent Trolls and the Urgent Need for Congress to Pass Comprehensive Common Sense Patent Reform Legislation

For more information on this panel, please click here

 

OP-ED: Measures Needed to Stop 'Patent Troll' Abuse

When I first heard the term "patent troll," I presumed it referred to some character in the latest "Hobbit" movie. But the more I heard about what patent trolls do, and how they bedevil small financial institutions -- including credit unions -- the more I became convinced that something had to be done to stop them, and right away.

And efforts are underway in the U.S. Congress -- particularly by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and other senior senators on the committee -- to do just that. And the faster the action to stop or slow down the trolls, the better -- to ensure that consumers, including credit union members, don't lose access to convenient services, or even their favorite small financial institutions. (Bill Cheney, The Huffington Post, February 5, 2014)

For full text of this op-ed from Bill Cheney of the Credit Union National Association, please click here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition Talks Patent Reform on R Street Panel

Washington, D.C. (February 4, 2014) – Today, on behalf of the Main Street Patent Coalition, the American Gaming Association and Credit Union National Association called on Congress to pass comprehensive patent reform. Speaking at a forum hosted by the R Street Institute both Whitaker Askew, V.P. at the American Gaming Association and Robin Cook, Assistant General Counsel at the Credit Union National Association reiterated the damage patent trolls are having on main street businesses across the country and outlined the tools they need to fight back against predatory patent trolls.

Read more here.

 

OP-ED: MEASURES NEEDED TO STOP ‘PATENT TROLL’ ABUSES

When I first heard the term “patent troll,” I presumed it referred to some character in the latest “Hobbit” movie. But the more I heard about what patent trolls do, and how they bedevil small financial institutions – including credit unions – the more I became convinced that something had to be done to stop them, and right away.

And efforts are underway in the U.S. Congress – particularly by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and other senior senators on the committee – to do just that. And the faster the action to stop or slow down the trolls, the better – to ensure that consumers, including credit union members, don’t lose access to convenient services, or even their favorite small financial institutions. (Bill Cheney, VTDigger, February 4, 2014)

For the full text of this op-ed by Bill Cheney, please click here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition Briefs Senate Judiciary Staff

Washington, D.C. (January 31, 2014) – Today, on behalf of the Main Street Patent Coalition, the App Developers Alliance urged Senate Judiciary staff to pass comprehensive patent reform. Speaking at a staff briefing, Tim Sparapani,Apps Alliance head of law and policy, reiterated that comprehensive patent reform should include an alternative to expensive invalidation litigation.

"Trolls wield patents that never should have been approved in the first place to extort licensing fees from entrepreneurs—not only app developers but main street businesses nationwide. And more often than not, business method patents are trolls’ weapon of choice,” said Sparapani. “Defending themselves requires an enormous investment of money-upwards of $2 million- and time. America’s job creators should not have to waste precious resources on frivolous litigation. Innovators deserve a faster, less expensive way to fight patent trolls.”

Read more here.

 

Patent trolling was up 11 percent last year

Is there a patent troll crisis? Conventional wisdom holds that there is. But a notable dissenter is David Kappos, who headed the United States Patent Office from 2009 to 2013. Kappos, who is now a lawyer at Cravath, Swain & Moore, contends that the "panicked calls for immediate action" are based on "anecdotal stories or even less -- unbound rhetoric." He claims the facts show that "the building is not on fire"… This week, a group of trade associations and companies formed the Main Street Patent Coalition to fight for patent reform. The coalition represents small tech start-ups, Web companies, retailers, banks, grocery chains and other businesses. They are acting because the dramatic expansion of patent troll lawsuits deeply affects them. For these groups, the building is, indeed, on fire. (James Bessen, The Washington Post, January 31, 2014).

For full text of this article by James Bessen of The Washington Post, please click here

 

OVERNIGHT TECH: Tech groups to debate software patents at Senate staff briefing
Tech groups will meet with Senate Judiciary staff Friday to discuss the current legal opportunities to challenge low-quality patents as a part of the committee’s efforts to reform patent law.

Currently in front of the committee is a bill from Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) aimed at curbing “patent troll” activity, or frivolous infringement lawsuits and threats of lawsuits based on low-quality patents. While most agree on Leahy’s bill as introduced, the tech industry is waiting to see which of the committee members’ contentious proposals get added to the bill.

One of those proposals comes from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who wants to expand an existing review process at the Patent and Trademark Office to software patents. Friday’s staff briefing will focus on the current mechanisms for improving patent quality. (Kate Tummarello and Julian Hattem, The Hill, January 30, 2014)

Read more from this blog post in The Hill here.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Small, Main Street Businesses Challenge Opposition to Patent Review Program

Washington, D.C. (January 30, 2014) - In response to a letter sent today to ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to reject efforts to expand the CBM program from the Business Software Alliance and others including known patent trolls, the Main Street Patent Coalition issued the following statement:

"Poor quality patents are used every day to threaten expensive litigation and extort licensing fees from main street businesses - restaurants, retailers, hotels, grocers and realtors," said coalition manager Michael Meehan. "Job-creating businesses deserve a faster, less expensive way to fight patent trolls. I can't imagine anyone disagrees with that." 

Read more here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Main Street Patent Coalition Letter to Congress: Pass Patent Legislation Now

Washington, D.C. (January 30, 2014) – In a letter to Congress today, the Main Street Patent Coalition called for comprehensive common sense patent reform legislation. The group includes nearly twenty industry associations and companies that represent small, main street businesses across the country and is dedicated to stopping patent abuse from trolls.

“Congress has an opportunity before it to grow the American economy and to stand with small, main street businesses,” said coalition manager Michael Meehan. “Small businesses are the economic engine of this country and the current system is allowing them to be targeted and abused by patent trolls armed with poor quality patents and a flawed path toward review and resolution. These abuses constitute a serious threat to the tens of thousands of companies and workers our members represent and to the American economy as a whole.  Now is the time to act.”

Read our letter to Congress here.

 

Obama pushes for patent reform bill during State of the Union

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama called on federal lawmakers to pass patent reform legislation.

Obama said doing so would help bolster the nation’s economy.

“We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender,” he said in his address. (Jessica M. Karmasek, Legal Newsline, January 29, 2014)

For full text of this article in Legal Newsline, please click here

 

main street businesses have for comprehensive reforms to the patent system, and to
express our concern that the current system has allowed for a serious threat to our
collective members and to the economy overall.
The Main Street Patent Coalition (MSPC) is writing to you to show the support that small,
main street businesses have for comprehensive reforms to the patent system, and to
express our concern that the current system has allowed for a serious threat to our
collective members and to the economy overall.

PRESS RELEASE: President Echoes Concerns of Main Street Businesses on the Need for Patent Reform - Pass Patent Legislation Now

Washington, D.C. (January 28, 2014) – The Main Street Patent Coalition said tonight it was encouraged to hear President Obama say Congress should “pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation,” during the State of the Union Address. The group includes more than a dozen trade associations and companies that represent small, main street businesses across the country and is dedicated to stopping patent abuse from trolls.

"Main street businesses are the engine of American jobs, American innovation and American ingenuity,” said Michael Meehan, coalition manager.  “We owe it to them to help protect the businesses they have built from predatory patent trolls. The opportunity to pass legislation that fixes those flaws and creates a patent system that supports our future is here, we agree that its time to enact meaningful reform."

A White House fact sheet said, “patent trolls,” are abusing the system’s strong protections, costing the economy billions of dollars, and undermining American innovation.

Read more here

 

PRESS RELEASE: Small, Main Street Businesses Launch Patent Reform Coalition

Washington, D.C. (January 27, 2014) – The Main Street Patent Coalition (MSPC), a group that includes more than a dozen trade associations and companies, called on Congress today to give small businesses a fighting chance against the growing threat of patent trolls.  On behalf of restaurants, retailers, hotels, grocers, and small businesses across the country, the MSPC has asked Congress to pass comprehensive common sense patent reform legislation, including:

TRANSPARENCY: Eliminate trolls’ ability to hide behind multiple shell corporations

PATENT QUALITY: Disarm trolls by improving patent quality and providing a way to fight bad patents

DEMAND LETTERS: Make it easier to punish trolls that send fraudulent and abusive shakedown demand letters

STOP TROLLS: Protect end users from troll lawsuits based on infringements by intermediary manufacturers and producers

TROLLS PAY: Make trolls pay when they sue companies frivolously and stop runaway litigation costs  

The current patent system, intended to protect the rights of inventors and other small businesses, has been corrupted and abused by patent trolls that leverage poor quality patents and the threat of costly litigation to extort money from the very people the laws were intended to protect. The toll patent trolls have levied against innovators, inventors and main street businesses is being felt throughout the American economy. According to a Boston University study, in 2011, 90 percent of companies facing patent suits were small businesses and the cost of patent trolls to the U.S. economy was $29 billion.  

Read more here

 

NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: NRF SAYS CONGRESS ‘MORE COMMITTED THAN EVER' TO PATENT REFORM

December 11, 2013

NRF told reporters today that an overwhelming vote for patent reform in the House and a hearing planned in the Senate before lawmakers head home for the holidays have retailers optimistic that legislation could be signed into law early next year.

“Two years after the America Invents Act, Congress is back and more committed than ever to providing end-user relief,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “This gives us a lot of hope that big, bipartisan, pro-business reform can get done in a Congress where a lot doesn’t get done. It speaks to the size of the problem.”

“There really is a groundswell of Main Street businesses calling for the same thing – common sense patent reform,” French said. “We want to get out of the patent shakedown system and get on with our day jobs.”

French and NRF Senior Director for Federal Government Relations Beth Provenzano spoke on a conference call with reporters this morning, citing support for patent reform among retailers, restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, supermarkets and online businesses.

The House passed the Innovation Act, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., 325-91 last Thursday, and the Senate Judiciary Committee has a hearing scheduled Tuesday on its own version of the legislation, the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act sponsored by Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

“They have recognized what our industry is facing,” Provenzano said. “Our members are innocent bystanders and victims.”

French called the House measure a “meaningful litigation reform bill that makes substantial changes that will help” reduce frivolous patent lawsuits but said NRF is seeking provisions that will “keep retailers out of court in the first place.”

NRF wants “demand” letters to be clearer about the patent infringements being alleged, an effective “customer stay” provision putting suits against retailers on hold when the manufacturer of technology counter-sues a patent troll, and expansion of a program that allows patents on methods of doing business to be reviewed without going to court. The business method program was created under the 2011 American Invents Act patent reform law but is currently limited to patents involving the financial services industry.

The House bill includes a “sense of Congress” provision on demand letters and calls for a study, but stops short of requiring NRF-backed changes that are included in the Senate bill. French said both bill’s provisions on a customer stay don’t do enough to protect retailers because they could be bound by terms agreed to by manufacturers and manufacturers would have veto power over the stay. And neither bill addresses the business method patent review program.

 

INTERNATIONAL FRANCHISERS ASSOCIATION: IFA Statement on Legislation to Amend U.S. Patent System

December 6, 2013

International Franchise Association Vice President of Government Relations Jay Perron released the following statement on House passage of H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act, which would allow small business owners to recover legal fees and ultimately make the U.S. patent system more efficient.  The bill is sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

“The International Franchise Association is pleased the House has taken the first step in amending the current patent law.  The Innovation Act will clarify current patent law and reduce economic incentives for patent “trolls” bent on damaging both national brands and local small businesses with frivolous lawsuits.

“Franchise businesses are able to thrive nationwide because of the strength of their brands under which they operate. Anything that undermines the strength of these brands puts a large section of the American economy at risk. Amending the provisions for shifting legal fees is an effective way to deter patent trolls while protecting litigants who bring reasonable and legitimate patent suits.”

 

NATIONAL GROCERS ASSOCIATION: NGA Commends House Passage of Legislation to Curb Patent Trolls

December 5, 2013

Arlington, VA - The National Grocers Association (NGA) Vice President of Public Affairs, Greg Ferrara made the following statement today commending the U.S. House for the passage of the Innovation Act of 2013 (H.R. 3309), a bipartisan patent reform bill aimed at curbing abusive patent trolls, which passed on an overwhelming majority vote of 325-91.  

"NGA appreciates Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) and the House Judiciary Committee for leading the charge in the U.S. House, and ultimately passing legislation that makes great strides towards reforming our broken patent system. NGA looks forward to continuing its work with Congress and the retail community to strengthen protections for end users, especially as it relates to protection from frivolous litigation and abusive demand letters." 

As the representative of a $131 billion dollar independent channel of the supermarket industry, NGA remains committed to working with both Chambers to protect grocers from erroneous patent abuse, and urges the U.S. Senate to swiftly pass this important legislation. 

 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS: NAR Applauds House Passage of Legislation to Protect Realtors® from Frivolous Patent Infringement Lawsuits

December 5, 2013

The Innovation Act of 2013, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives today, will help curb abusive patent litigation and licensing schemes that are increasingly harming Realtors® and main street business owners. 

“NAR will continue to support legislative efforts to prevent fraudulent claims from ‘patent trolls,’ who divert significant time and money away from Realtors® and their businesses.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

 

NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION: National Restaurant Association Commends Senators Leahy and Lee on Introduction of Patent Reform Legislation

November 19, 2013

The National Restaurant Association today issued the following statement of support for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Committee member Senator Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) introduction of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013, a strong step forward in protecting businesses improperly targeted by patent trolls:

“We applaud Senators Leahy and Lee’s bipartisan commitment to fight the continued attack on restaurant and small business innovation through frivolous claims made by patent trolls. The Patent Transparency and Improvements Act would require greater transparency in demand letters and a more equitable litigation process for those who fight frivolous claims in court. As patent trolls continue to stifle economic growth, we thank the Senators for working with us to put an end to this problem once and for all so restaurants can have the freedom to move their businesses forward.”

Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, National Restaurant Association

The NRA, along with 36 of its state restaurant association partners, recently sent a letter to Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee leadership urging them to move forward on parent reform. 

 

AMERICAN HOTEL & LODGING ASSOCIATION: LODGING INDUSTRY THANKS LEAHY FOR INTRODUCTION OF PATENT TROLL LEGISLATION

November 18, 2013

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the sole national association representing all segments of the U.S. lodging industry, issued the following statement following today’s introduction of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT):

“The hotel industry is seeing a disturbing rise in the number of frivolous lawsuits filed by predatory entities known as ‘patent trolls,’ often against small ‘mom and pop’-sized businesses without the resources to fight costly legal battles,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president/CEO. “These hotels and other end users are being targeted simply for offering wireless Internet access for guests, safety communications between employees, and online ordering services – and the overall result is an $80 billion hit on our economy each year.”

Lugar continued, “The lodging industry appreciates Chairman Leahy’s willingness to work towards providing protections for the rights of legitimate patent holders and address the growing problem of frivolous lawsuits filed by patent trolls against the small businesses that are the foundation of the U.S. economy.”

 

APPLICATION DEVELOPERS ALLIANCE: App Developers Alliance Applauds Leahy-Lee Patent Reform Bill for Protecting Innovators

November 18, 2013

The Application Developers Alliance today praised Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) for introducing patent reform legislation that will protect startups and small businesses. 

“Startups and small businesses—without millions in the bank—are the most vulnerable to patent trolls wielding bad patents and have the least resources to fight back. These entrepreneurs, who are driving innovation in cities and towns across the U.S., badly need reforms that give them a fighting chance, including ending abusive demand letters,” said Jon Potter, President of the App Developers Alliance. 

“We’re pleased that the patent reform legislation introduced by Chairman Leahy and Senator Lee takes startups and small businesses into consideration. The effort to prohibit abusive demand letters is a major step toward protecting innovators at startups and Main Street businesses nationwide.” 

 

AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION: Statement on the Introduction of the Innovation Act of 2013

October 23, 2013

The AGA applauds House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) introduction today of the Innovation Act of 2013.  This comprehensive legislation, if passed, would greatly limit patent trolls and frivolous patent litigation that negatively impacts U.S. gaming businesses, along with a broad range of other industries, by hindering our ability to innovate and inhibiting economic growth. We look forward to continuing our work with the Big Tent Patent Coalition, Chairman Goodlatte, and the other original bipartisan co-sponsors to ensure America realizes real patent reform in the days ahead.

 

APPLICATION DEVELOPERS ALLIANCE: More Members of Congress Stand with Innovators to Fight Patent Trolls

July 22, 2013

Today the Application Developers Alliance applauded new Congressional action to eradicate patent trolls. Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced a bill to provide troll victims a lower-cost alternative to litigation when challenging the validity of patents that should never have been issued. The measure, like that introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), will expand the Covered Business Method Program, which provides an administrative avenue to challenge the validity of a troll’s patent in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

Read more here

 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS: Letter to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) on Introduction of S. 866, the “Patent Quality Improvement Act.” (June 11, 2013)

 

NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: Letter to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) on Introduction of S. 866, the “Patent Quality Improvement Act.” (May 14, 2013)

Share Your Story