House and Senate Bills to Curb Patent “Trolls” Include AICPA Recommendations

November 26, 2013

Legislation introduced in the House (H.R. 3309) and Senate (S. 1720) take aim at so-called patent “trolls” or “patent assertion entities” (PAEs), which purchase patents for the express purpose of filing patent infringement lawsuits against companies to get licensing fees or a legal settlement without actually making any goods or providing any services.

CPA firms and state CPA societies are among the many small- and medium-sized businesses that have been targeted by PAEs.  The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) submitted written testimony for a recent hearing on H.R. 3309 in support of the bill and has urged Congress to take swift action on patent litigation reform.  Earlier this year, the AICPA developed guiding principles for patent reform and worked closely with and advised the House and Senate Judiciary Committees about these principles.  H.R. 3309 and S. 1720 include several of the AICPA’s recommendations.

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.) has discussed his legislation with the Obama administration and with Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), and all sides have expressed support for efforts to rein in abusive patent litigation.  Goodlatte’s bill is expected to be considered by the House of Representatives in early December.  The timing for Leahy’s bill is uncertain, but it could be the subject of a hearing before the end of the year. 

“We applaud the attention that Chairman Leahy and Chairman Goodlatte have given this problem as they have proposed legislative remedies to address frivolous patent lawsuits,” AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon said.  “Furthermore, we are pleased that the guiding principles recommended by the AICPA to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have been given serious consideration.  We believe these principles represent a solid foundation in reforming the patent litigation system.  We stand ready to work with Congress on this matter that is so crucial to jobs, innovation, and our economy.”