Did you know that in the media of the Wright Brothers’ time, corporations said things about them that sounded just like what is being said about “patent trolls”? “They don’t even produce a product, why should we have to pay them?” Yes, certain corporations have been trying to weaken our rights for a long time, but the danger has never been anywhere near as great as it is now.
I have spent the last two weeks in Washington DC fighting for our rights. I couldn’t have done it without your donations to US Inventor. Anybody reading this who doesn’t know about the present danger to inventors’ rights, read this and this.
In the last two weeks, I met with 65 offices in the House of Representatives and I assure you that every single one is now more aware of the false narrative that is behind this legislation and the devastating potential consequences of passing the Innovation Act, H.R.9. But there are serious obstacles to overcome.
Most of you know that this same bill passed the House in a landslide in December of 2013. Once a politician has voted one way on a bill, it is hard to change because they don’t want to be seen as “flip-floppers.” Of course, they were misled the first time and the environment totally changed last year.
It used to be that someone could bring a frivolous patent lawsuit, and an innocent defendant might settle rather than fight because of the low probability of winning back court costs (called a fee-reversal). A couple of Supreme Court decisions last year have totally changed this situation. Now, fee-reversals in frivolous cases are happening at a high rate. In 250 cases, there have been 50 instances of fee-reversal. This means that any party bringing a frivolous patent lawsuit faces significant financial danger, as they should.
Since fee reversal is now happening at a high rate, there certainly is no justification for what is proposed in The Innovation Act, H.R.9: presumptive Loser-Pays. This means that if you sue someone for patent infringement and you don’t prevail, regardless of the merit of your case, you will be presumed to owe the infringer his court costs (which could exceed $1,000,000). To not have to pay, you will have to litigate further to prove that the points of your case were objectively reasonable. This means that every case will end up in a fight for fees and will cost more than the excessive amount it already does. But worse is the fact that your contingency attorney will have to be willing to go the extra mile, after losing, for no pay. This will make it much harder than it already is to even get representation and have any access to justice. This is only one of the many real-world unintended consequences of this terrible legislation.
In addition to the difficulty of getting Representatives to reverse their vote, large constituents are pushing very hard for this bill to be passed. One office I met with has Dell Computer as their largest constituent, and another has Ebay. We don’t stand much of a chance with offices like this. But the majority of the offices I met with are now either allies or doubtful enough about the bill that they could go against it.
The problem is that the leadership is trying to get the bill to a floor vote pretty fast. It was going to be this week, but now I’m hearing that it might be the week after. Increasing opposition could push it further. If it passes the House, we have to stop it in the Senate.
I’m not the only one fighting against the bill. Even though the universities and drug companies got big carve-outs (exclusion from some provisions), they are still making some noise. Also, others like the Innovation Alliance and Eagle Forum are there. I am coordinating with these groups to help maximize our efforts. But time is running out fast.
I need to get back to DC to continue the fight door to door. I know that some of you are in tough financial situations. I am in the same boat. But anyone reading this who can help get me back to DC will be doing what has to be done for us to maintain our rights as inventors. This is a crusade of inestimable importance. Failure is not an option. If you are able to donate any amount, go to US Inventor (a non-profit corporation). Your donations will do directly to getting me back in front of Representatives who will be voting on this bill, or Senators if we lose in the House.
Thank you for your support. I know you are all with me in this fight. We can and must win this battle.
Randy Landreneau, Founder
Independent Inventors of America