"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.
"The Internet has become the backbone of our economy — powering big technology companies, local stores and restaurants alike. Businesses across Virginia rely on the Internet to connect to their customers, whether through online advertising, e-commerce or simply providing maps to help potential customers reach them. These common tools, traditionally confined to the technology sector, have opened Virginia businesses to a new threat: patent trolls.
"The Valley News Op-ed Column: Vermont Leads War Against Patent Trolls
Steve Voigt and Michael Beckerman
To the Valley News
Sunday, November 17, 2013
(Published in print: Sunday, November 17, 2013)
"There’s a silent drain on businesses across the country: patent trolls. These companies do not make or create anything. They exist solely to prey on legitimate and productive businesses through the threat of litigation. And they’re doing real harm to our economy, to the tune of $80 billion every year.
"If you’ve heard about patent trolls, you already know that they hurt businesses, drive up prices for consumers and are a drain on our economy to the tune of $80 billion annually. What you may not know is that they are no longer limiting their targets to software developers and high-tech companies.
"There’s a growing and pernicious threat facing Connecticut’s businesses: Patent trolls. Using the threat of litigation, patent trolls are targeting an increasingly broad array of businesses – moving on from just technology companies to Main Street businesses – and sucking billions out of the economy while doing it.
"Uber presents Colorado with one of the biggest tests in terms of making the the most innovative state in the nation. If it is truly serious about transforming itself into the best state for entrepreneurs and Internet startups, the choice is clear.
"It seems impossible these days to find an issue that brings together members from the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. Fortunately, bipartisan agreement is beginning to form around stopping patent trolls.
"There were a total of 121,247 patent grants issued from January 2011 to December 2011, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
"It seems impossible these days to find an issue that brings together members from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. In a rare exception to this rule, last month Republican Rep. Darrell Issa and Democratic Rep. Judy Chu introduced bipartisan legislation to help businesses here in California and across the country better protect themselves from patent trolls seeking to exploit and profit off of others’ ideas.