In a rare bipartisan move, a new bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week called the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act. And no, this is not some clandestine government agency that will one day give birth to the Avengers. The SHIELD act aims to stop patent trolls by making them pay all the legal bills for whomever they sue in court, if the lawsuit is unsuccessful. The bill was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and what is also unique about it is that for the first time Congress has defined the term "software patent."
This is especially good news because the courts currently use language related to software that has not been updated since 1952. It is important to note that there is also specific language written into the bill to help protect from the possibility that the definition of "software patent" does not become abusable, and in fact this language helps make sure that a patent holder is not guaranteed that their patent is legal, just because it is labeled as a software patent.
Here are a couple of quotes from the Congressmen who introduced this bill:
"Patent trolls don't create new technology and they don't create American jobs," DeFazio said in a news release. "They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn't create and then suing the innovators who did the hard work and created the product."This is a great step forward in fixing the broken patent system, although there is still work to be done (that and we don't know if the bill will pass). The heart of the problem lies at the USPTO itself. For now, we will just need to be satisfied with the first baby step."The SHIELD Act ensures that American tech companies can continue to create jobs, rather than waste resources on fending off frivolous lawsuits," Chaffetz said. "A single lawsuit, which may easily cost over $1 million if it goes to trial, can spell the end of a tech startup and the jobs that it could have created."