This year, the United States House of Representatives will vote on an important act that could help protect realtors from the legal costs – and headaches – brought on by frivolous patent infringement cases.
Like copyright trolls, patent trolls are people or companies who make most of their money by buying up old patents, then threatening legal action to extract money from other parties or businesses. Generally speaking, patent trolls do not manufacture anything – they simply buy up patents to extract royalties in far greater sums than the value of the patented technology.
Patent trolls often target realtors for using extremely commonplace but patented technologies, particularly on their websites – things like dropdown menus, search alert functions and the like.
How the HR 9 could combat patent trolls
The HR 9 Innovation Act would make it more challenging for patent trolls to take advantage by closing legal loopholes and requiring the plaintiff in patent infringement cases to provide more evidence and information. Patent trolls would be required to provide more information about the alleged infringement, to prove that they do, in fact, own the patent they are suing over, to explain how they calculate the royalty they are asking for, and to pay for the defendant’s legal fees if the court throws out the case.
The act would also protect customers or “end-users” from being punished for purchasing and using technologies and services from other companies.
The NAR is in favor of HR 9
The National Association of Realtors is campaigning in favor of the Innovation Act by encouraging realtors to write to their representatives asking them to vote for the act. According to the NAR:
“We and other small businesses are the victims of abusive behavior at the hand of these trolls. Patent trolls are hurting our economic recovery and forcing companies to divert money that would otherwise be spent to expand our businesses. As a result, targeted companies are left with few options: settle or go through costly, lengthy litigation.”
The House is set to vote on the Innovation Act later this summer.