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MSPC Letter on Demand Letters

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

 

The Honorable Lee Terry

Chairman, Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade

Committee on Energy and Commerce

United States House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515


The Honorable Jan Schakowsky

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade

Committee on Energy and Commerce

United States House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Mr. Chairman and Ms. Schakowsky,

 

We commend the leadership of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade and look forward to seeing the committee find a bipartisan solution to the critical problem of PAE demand letters. Businesses threatened by patent assertion entities (PAEs) are encouraged by the support from Chairman Terry and his Subcommittee colleagues by holding a hearing regarding patent trolls. The Chairman’s hearing sends the signal to small businesses everywhere that Congress is ready to enact reforms that shield business owners from frivolous patent litigation letters as part of the larger effort to combat patent trolls.

 

The House already passed a comprehensive patent reform bill at the end of last year and separate patent reform bills are actively under discussion in the Senate. But as today’s decision has demonstrated, our work is not finished, which is why we applaud Chairman Terry’s push to enact solutions that prevent the wasted resources, unnecessary cost on small business and the general economic speed bumps caused by frivolous patent litigation. The cost of patent trolls on the economy has climbed steadily over the past few years with no sign of letting up.

 

Small, medium and large businesses continue to hemorrhage money into licensing or court fees, which could otherwise be used to provide more jobs, to innovate, to expand or to simply meet overhead and pay for operations.

 

Without strong disclosure and transparency requirements united with meaningful litigation reforms, patent trolls’ abusive tactics will continue and American business owners will have few means to defend themselves.

 

The current patent system, intended to protect the rights of inventors and other small businesses has been corrupted and abused by patent trolls that leverage poor quality patents and essentially extort small businesses. Small businesses, which fuel our economy, are then forced into weighing their options between paying costly licensing fees or more expensive legal fees required to fight back.

 

More transparency around demand letters through greater disclosure and clarity requirements for the patent trolls that send them would help businesses make sense of a demand letter and be better equipped to fight patent litigation. Demand letter transparency is a general concept that enjoys wide-ranging support among the American business community. Right now, Congress has the opportunity to provide thousands of business owners across the country with much-needed relief.

 

It is clear that the need to prevent vague and deceptive patent demand letters from non-practicing entities enjoys broad bipartisan support and that the urgency of the situation has enough acknowledgement from Congress needed to swiftly go the distance.

 

We appreciate your consideration of this critical issue and thank you for bringing it to the attention of your colleagues.

 

 

Sincerely,

American Apparel & Footwear Association

American Association of Advertising Agencies

American Bankers Association

American Hotel and Lodging Association

American Gaming Association

American Society of Home Inspectors

Application Developers Alliance

Credit Union National Association

Direct Marketing Association

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Emob

Engine

Food Marketing Institute

HTC

Independent Community Bankers of America

International Franchise Association

The Latino Coalition

National Association of Convenience Stores

National Association of Home Builders

National Association of Federal Credit Unions

National Association of Realtors

National Council of Chain Restaurants

National Grocers Association

National Retail Federation

National Restaurant Association

NTCA -The Rural Broadband Association

Printing Industries of America

Public Knowledge

Retail Industry Leaders Association

Small Business Majority

TicketNetwork

U.S. Travel Association

CC: Members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce

 

Stephen E. Schatz, Sr.

Senior Director, Media Relations

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