The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and 50 organizations have sent a letter to U.S. lawmakers in both houses of Congress urging them to reform the patent system. The appeal urges Congress to deal with "abuses of the legal system by certain patent assertion entities, commonly referred to as patent trolls."
The letter also notes that since 2005, the number of defendants sued by patent trolls has quadrupled and in 2012 patent trolls sued over 7,000 defendants and sent thousands of threat letters demanding everything from settlements to licensing agreements on vaguely worded patents. The EFF estimates that these legal battles cost the U.S. economy $80 billion in 2011, and companies that actually produce products and services paid out an estimated $29 billion in direct payouts. An alarming new trend, says the EFF, is that patent trolls no longer target big companies. Small businesses are now the most frequent targets.
The EFF's letter goes on to praise the efforts of Chairman Leahy and Chairman Goodlatte in seeking comprehensive legislative solutions in the Judiciary Committees. The EFF also praises individual efforts to deal with patent trolls in the Congress and thinks that now is the right time to do something about this problem.
So who has signed on to the letter? Joining the EFF in its appeal to Congress is 1776, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Bankers Association, American Gaming Association, American Hospital Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Public Power Association, American Public Transportation Association, Application Developers Alliance, Association of National Advertisers, Coalition for Patent Fairness, Competitive Carriers Association, COMPTEL, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Consumer Electronics Association, Credit Union National Association, Direct Marketing Association, Inc, Electronic Retailing Association, Engine Advocacy, Financial Services Roundtable, Food Marketing Institute, Hattery, Independent Community Bankers of America, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Information Technology Industry Council, International Franchisers Association, Internet Association, Internet Infrastructure Coalition, Motion Picture Association of America, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, National Association of Broadcasters, National Association of Realtors, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants, National Grocers Association, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, Newspaper Association of America, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, Online Publishers Association, Printing Industries of America, Public Knowledge, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Software & Information Industry Association, TechAmerica, TechNet, and the United States Telecom Association.
You can read the letter here.