BATON ROUGE – Two bills pre-filed for the 2014 Louisiana legislative session are firmly aimed at patent 'trolls,' firms that specialize in bringing patent lawsuits.
So-called trolls are companies that often do not produce or manufacture any product, but hold numerous patents that are similar to existing products made by another company, especially software products, through which they threaten lawsuits to both manufacturers as well as customers using those products.
Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, is sponsoring a measure that would provide judicial recourse in local courts for those wrongfully targeted in patent infringement cases.
“What they do is they call you up and it may have something to do with the software in your fax machine or your computers and they’ll say ‘well we have the patent on that and you’ve got so many workstations and we want $500 a station or else we are going to sue you for patent infringement,’” he said. “So, w hat we did with this bill was to say, well if you did it in bad faith you can be sued under the Deceptive Trade Practices Law.”
SB255 would mandate that companies claiming patent infringement provide specific details including the patent number or application number, the name and address of the patent owner and factual allegations concerning the specific areas in which the accused patent infringement is taking place.
The law is aimed at firms that threaten companies with patent infringement lawsuits without sufficient proof and would give those threatened by the lawsuits a mechanism through which they can strike back through legal action of their own.
“You can go back and say this guy just took all of this stuff and plugged in my name and mailed it out to me and 6,000 other people and didn’t give any of the specifics. If it is determined to be a deceptive trade practice and they are acting in bad faith under that statute you can collect damages and attorney’s fees,” Martiny said.
Martiny said the bill is aimed at protecting those who may otherwise be tempted to make a payment to those behind patent infringement accusations because it would cost less than fighting a court battle.
“All I am doing is trying to put some teeth into it when you are a victim. You have some recourse to go back and say 'look you didn't properly set your claims, so you owe us the damage of having to go through it and find out what it is about,'” he said.
HB564, which is similar to SB255, is being sponsored in the House by Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge.
Ponti did not respond to a request for comment on this story.