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Patent Litigation Reform Dies in the Senate

The term Patent Troll may not be familiar to you but in the real estate industry, it is.  And now that the US Senate has dropped this bill you may become even more familiar.

Patent Troll

In 2011, there was a suit filed against the real estate industry over the use of internet based mapping.  Imagine a home search website that allows you to search for homes and displaying them on the web in a map.  A claim was made that the patent for map website searches was held and that all real estate websites, Multiple listing services and state and local real estate associations were using this technology without permission.  A multimillion dollar lawsuit ensued and faced with the prospects of going to court to defend this claim, it quickly became apparent that it would be cheaper and faster to negotiate a settlement with this company while not admitting any wrong doing in exchange for a lifetime license to use this technology.  In other words, a “Shake down”.

This is where the term Patent Troll comes from.  If you think the real estate industry is the only one affected, they did the same thing to the travel business websites and other industries.

Legislation was proposed to stop Patent Trolls as is described in this web article from The White House itself  But on May 21st of this year, the bill that had gained traction in Congress was pulled by Senate Judiciary Chairman, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) effectively killing legislation for this congressional season.

This last article reports that the legislation was ultimately not able to overcome several political hurdles on both sides of the aisle. political opposition from trial lawyers that put pressure on Democrats and the upcoming midterm elections where Republicans feel confident that they will take back control of the Senate thus limiting their incentives to want to make further compromises on this issue. Republicans believe they can get a bill they like better in the new Congress.

Please remember this “posturing” as we head into the fall election season.  Legislation would have a much better chance of passing if our elected representatives would stop posturing and begin working together.  Do I hear an Amen?


About Les Sulgrove

Les is an Iowa native born in Des Moines and raised in the southwest Iowa town of Bridgewater. He has been a resident of Des Moines since 1982 and has been married to his wife Linda for over 35 years. Together they have 3 grown children, 7 grandchildren and make their home on Des Moines south side. He has been a licensed REALTOR® since 1990 and is Vice President at VIA Group, REALTORS®. Les is the 2011 Past President of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® (DMAAR) and received the award of Salesperson of the Year by DMAAR in 2007 for his involvement and service to the Association. Additionally, he is active at the Iowa Association of REALTORS® and serves on local, state and national committees. He also owns and operates the national technology networking group CyberProfessionals. This group of real estate professionals meets twice annually across the United States to learn from each other and share new marketing ideas with heavy emphasis on current and future technologies and their use in the real estate business. Les’ hobbies include golf, photography and sarcastic humor. He and Linda spend many Saturday mornings from Spring to Fall at the Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market. He enjoys spoiling his grandchildren at every opportunity.

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