U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) has introduced a bill to crack down so-called “patent trolls.” These are companies that buy patents and then send letters demanding payment for alleged patent violations to businesses, including credit unions. McCaskill’s bill, called the Transparency in Assertion of Patents Act (S.2049), requires minimum disclosures in letters sent by patent trolls. It gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) power to crack down on these demands and specify exactly what constitutes a deceptive demand letter. Click here to read Senator McCaskill’s bill.
The need to address patent trolling is one of the issues credit union leaders from Missouri discussed during Capitol Hill meetings at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
“We appreciate that Senator McCaskill has taken an active interest in fighting patent trolls, as this is something that affects credit unions in Missouri,” says Don Cohenour, Missouri Credit Union Association president/CEO. “We are working with her office to make sure they have the information and examples they need to demonstrate why and how this is a problem as the bill moves forward.”
The effort to curb patent trolling is growing on the federal and state level. Missouri’s General Assembly is considering two bills - HB 1374 and SB 706 - to address the patent trolling issue. MCUA recently testified in favor of the state House bill. Click here for more details.
The Obama administration also recently introduced actions to address some of the problems small businesses face when dealing with patent trolls. Click here for more information.
"Patent trolls are costing American businesses tens of billions of dollars a year," said McCaskill, who serves as Chairman of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee and recently held a hearing on the issue. "That's money that could be going to hiring new employees or expanding a business. While the administration and some states are taking steps to address the problem, only a federal law can provide the basic transparency small business owners need in these demand letters to determine whether they should be taken seriously, challenged, or simply thrown in the trash."
Caption: U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) met with Missouri credit union representatives during a GAC Hill visit to her Washington, D.C. office.