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.
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 http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/06/04/taking-patent-trolls-protect-american-innovation 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. http://www.realtor.org/articles/patent-litigation-reform-dies-in-the-senate
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?