Monthly Archives: December 2013

December 19, 2013 | Op-Eds

Vermont Credit Union Head Testifies on ‘Patent Trolls’

Rutland Herald
Vermont Credit Union Head Testifies on ‘Patent Trolls’
Posted December 19,2013

WASHINGTON — The president of the Vermont-based New England Federal Credit Union urged Congress on Tuesday to create a public registry of so-called patent troll demand letters as the Senate Judiciary Committee — led by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. — held its first hearing on legislation designed to curtail the practice.

Patent troll cases involve a person or company using what are often low-quality patents, in an effort to collect licensing fees by filing patent infringement lawsuits against end users of various products.

New England Federal Credit Union, which has more than 85,000 members in Vermont, has received two “vague and misleading” demand letters suggesting that 23 automated teller machines owned by the company infringed on 13 patents, according to the credit union’s president, John Dwyer Jr. He said the letters had been sent without the proper investigations having been performed.

Dwyer told the committee that almost every credit union in Vermont had received the same demand letter, including one that does not own any ATMs. A federal appeals court already has declared the patents in question to be invalid, Dwyer noted.

“A patent troll that sends more than 10 demand letters in a year should be required to enter all demand letters to a registry that would be publicly available and maintained by a federal agency,” Dwyer testified.

In a statement, Leahy asserted that this type of lawsuit is often targeted at customers and small businesses that “have no real means of fighting back.”

Last month, Leahy and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced a bill aimed at patent trolls. The bill, dubbed the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013, aims to promote transparency in patent ownership. It seeks to protect customers and end users of products by allowing cases against them to be stayed while the manufacturer litigates the suit.

Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed its own version of patent reform by a bipartisan vote of 325-91. However, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a co-sponsor of Leahy’s bill, said Tuesday that the Senate will pass its own patent bill and then go to conference with the House.

During the hearing, Whitehouse contended that there are “very strong ulterior motives” from corporations and other business groups seeking broader litigation reform. These interests are trying to “knock down and diminish the civil justice system as much as they can,” Whitehouse said.

“Beware of pushing or being pushed too far to that fight. That’s not a fight you need to have,” Whitehouse told a hearing room filled with lobbyists. “You need to get a bill through the Senate that gets you into conference with the House.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., argued that the House-passed bill is not strong enough to address the problem of low-quality patents. He introduced a proposal in May to crack down on patent trolls that garnered the support of the White House and nearly four dozen companies and associations, including Google and Wal-Mart.

Also in May, the Vermont Legislature passed the nation’s first anti-patent troll bill prohibiting “bad-faith” demand letters and damage claims relating to patent infringements.

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December 12, 2013 | News, Statements

Statement on ECPA White House Petition Surpassing 100,000 Signatures

The time for ECPA reform is now. Reaching 100,000 signatures to meet the White House petition threshold indicates that users want and expect 4th Amendment privacy protections for their personal information stored in cloud-based servers and web-based email servers as they do for their personal documents and effects stored in the offline world.  We look forward to the White House’s official response on this important issue.

December 10, 2013 | Letters, News

Letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (“ICANN”)

Today, The Internet Association submitted a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (“ICANN”).

To view the letter, click here.

December 5, 2013 | News, Statements

The Internet Association Commends The Passage of The Innovation Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.. — Today, Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of The Internet Association issued the following statement expressing support of the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act:

“The Internet Association commends the passage of H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act. This legislation will help combat today’s widespread abuse of our patent system that costs our economy $80 billion each year. The Internet Association supports the fair, common-sense adjustments that this bill makes to patent litigation. This bipartisan legislation should send a powerful message to patent trolls that their continued abuse of the patent system and extortion of American businesses will not be tolerated. We are also encouraged by the White House’s support of the bill and will continue to work with the Senate to ensure the passage of strong and effective legislation that deters the abusive litigation practices of patent trolls and promotes innovation and economic growth.”

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December 4, 2013 | Letters, News

Letter of Support for H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act

Today, The Internet Association submitted a letter of support for H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act.

To view the letter, click here.

December 2, 2013 | Letters, News

Letter of Support for Chairman Rockefeller and Senator Thune’s Cybersecurity Act of 2013

Today, The Internet Association submitted a letter of support for Chairman Rockefeller and Senator Thune’s Cybersecurity Act of 2013.  

To view the letter, click here

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