Today is an exciting day — patent trolls are beginning to get some real attention in Congress. Following Senator Schumer’s introduction of the Patent Quality Improvement Act a couple of weeks ago, today Senator Cornyn introduced the Patent Abuse Reduction Act, and overall it’s a strong bill. Senator Cornyn’s bill includes a couple of very important fixes:
Raise the pleading standard in patent cases — The first document filed in any litigation is the complaint. Patent trolls often file vague complaints that don’t tell a company which product supposedly infringes or how. This bill lays out specific information that patent owners will have to provide, including details of how the defendant allegedly infringes and all the parties who have a stake in the litigation.
Shift the burden of the cost of discovery — Discovery is the process of gathering possible evidence. It includes producing internal documents and providing witnesses for deposition. Gathering, reviewing, and producing documents is extremely expensive, and even more so in patent cases. Patent trolls typically are just shell companies with very few documents, and few discovery costs. That means that a defendant in a troll case is looking at potentially millions of dollars in discovery costs, while the troll won’t have to spend much at all. Senator Cornyn’s bill shifts this. There are core documents that each side has to produce, but after that, if you want it, you pay for it. And best of all, this includes source code and emails, which can be a huge expense to produce.
There’s more to the bill as well, and we’re looking forward to working with Senator Cornyn. It’s a great start towards addressing the patent troll problem.