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Bill to discourage ‘patent trolls’ heads to governor

by caprecord

Washington businesses could receive fewer threats of patent infringement with the passage of a bill that discourages so-called patent trolls.

379303639_4c768a3bf5_zPatent trolls are companies that use infringement claims to force small businesses to pay licensing fees or face expensive lawsuits.

Senate Bill 5059, the so-called Patent Troll Prevent Act, would amend the state’s Consumer Protection Act to include bad faith assertions of patent infringement and allow the state Attorney General to bring action against a company that violates those rules.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Tacoma Democrat and prime sponsor of the House version, says it will protect small businesses in the state. “This bill will allow Attorney General’s office to pursue bad actors who write a letter in bad faith to a small business or someone else, trying to get them to just give up money, even though they have no hold on the patent,” she said.

The state Attorney General’s office is already investigating companies who send suspicious letters claiming patent infringement. One company sent 900 letters to more than 300 Washington businesses, a spokesperson said.

The bill passed 94-3 on the state House floor on Monday. It previously passed the Senate, and now moves to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature.

Similar laws have passed in 17 other states. A federal bill to discourage patent trolls passed with overwhelming support in the House, but stalled in the Senate. Supporters say heaving lobbying from biotechnology and other companies prevented the federal measure from moving forward.