A House committee approved the “Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters (TROL) Act” on April 29. The bill would help curb abusive patent demand letters by requiring certain details to claim an infringement. The legislation would also authorize tougher enforcement against so-called “patent trolls.” Real estate companies have been the target of patent infringement lawsuits involving WiFi, web-based transactions platforms, construction practices and more.
But according to opponents the bill isn’t tough enough. Among other things, that’s because it would allow bad actors to avoid accountability for unsubstantiated claims by showing a lack of intent and setting a cap on liability.
NMHC/NAA urged congressional action on patent reform explaining the costly impacts of fraudulent patent infringement claims on the real estate industry - including apartment firms. These claims demand licensing fees and threaten legal action without information to support them. We also continue to monitor the issue and weigh-in on behalf of the apartment industry.
Also on April 29, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced the comprehensive “Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act.” The bill is a long-negotiated bipartisan compromise to strengthen legal standards for infringement claims, encourage attorney fee awards to the prevailing party in a dispute and address demand letter abuse.
The legislation adopts a different approach for establishing liability than the “Innovation Act,” which was sponsored by Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) and passed by the House last year. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the bill in May.