April 08, 2014

Witnesses urge action on patent trolls in hearing

April 9, 2014 – Witnesses testifying at the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on a legislative solution to "patent trolls" emphasized the need to address abusive patent demand letters and protect small businesses.

NAFCU's Carrie Hunt, in a letter sent ahead of the hearing, urged the members of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade to put a stop to patent troll demand letter threats that lead to frivolous and expensive litigation.

"NAFCU believes a legislative solution is necessary to alter the intimidating business model used by these patent assertion entities and will continue to be supportive of any Congressional efforts to curb these practices," said Hunt, NAFCU's senior vice president of government affairs and general counsel.

During Tuesday's hearing, Cisco Systems Inc. Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer Mark Chandler called for transparency and accountability, saying, "We need a little sunshine to disinfect this dark corner of the patent world – because once the practices used by these scam artists are exposed, and the harm to their victims better understood, these rip-off artists will be forced to change their ways."

Rheo Brouillard, the president and CEO of Savings Institute Bank and Trust Company said in his testimony that threats of litigation are particularly destructive for small banks.

NAFCU has already announced its support of patent reform legislation, including House-passed H.R. 3309, the "Innovation Act," introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and two separate bills from Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would help discourage patent trolls from filing frivolous lawsuits.