Real estate has been the target of wide-ranging patent infringement allegations by so-called "patent trolls" that have threatened meritless legal action for the unlicensed use of patented products or technologies, including WiFi, digital transactions and web-based platforms, and moisture prevention construction practices, among other things. This abuse has led Congress to take action.
Specifically, a “troll” is an individual or company often formed for the sole purpose of asserting intellectual property rights against businesses they accuse of unlicensed use. Targeted businesses often submit to a demand to purchase a license rather than commit greater resources to a legal defense even when an infringement allegation is completely frivolous.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to markup a bill (S. 1720) addressing patent troll abuses on May 1, but consideration was reportedly delayed in order to address some outstanding issues and gather more support leading up to a full Senate vote. The House passed abill (H.R. 3309) in a decisive 325 to 91 bipartisan vote in December and President Obama has signaled his support for reform.
NMHC/NAA, along with a number of organizations representing various real estate sectors, sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging approval of legislation.