US considers patent troll hunting

US Congress is actually considering doing something to stop the patent troll cases which are stuffing up the world economy.

It is not much, but Congress is considering whether companies that hold patents essential to a standard should be forbidden from asking that infringing products be banned from the US market.

At the moment companies who have a patent included in a standard have to offer it to people at a “reasonable rate”.

However, lately, patent trolling has become so cut-throat that companies have been refusing to allow rivals access to their patents at reasonable rates and have been attempting to enforce their patents so that they are banned in the US.

Senators have been focusing on Motorola Mobility which has been doing just that in spats with Microsoft and Apple. To be fair to Motorola it is also fighting a life and death struggle against Vole and Apple who claim to have invented all sorts of rubbish that Motorola broke.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the antitrust impact of sales bans if the manufacturer infringes on a standard essential patent.

According to Reuters FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez is expected to testify, as will Joseph Wayland, the Justice Department’s top antitrust export.

Lately the FTC has warned that the owners of standard essential patents can sometimes demand too much for licensing fees and use the considerable threat of an injunction to win unreasonable rates.

It urged the ITC to automatically refrain from barring infringing products from the US market if the patent in question is essential to an industry standard. Wayland is expected to agree.

While the courts are unlikely to issue sales bans, the ITC still does and is becoming the first port of call for patent trolls.

Microsoft faces a potential injunction banning the sale of its Xbox because of accusations that it infringes patented Motorola Mobility technology essential to a video standard.

Motorola Mobility said that if it does not get any bans there is nothing to stop rivals from refusing to pay licensing fees.

Smartphone makers have been estimated to have wasted $15 to $20 billion dollars fighting over patents.

Knowing the US Congress it will all come down to which business interest pays the most to lobby it. The US has essentially created the patent fiasco and has shown a surprising reluctance to put laws in place to stop it happening.