US universities back new bill to curb patent trolls

The academic research community is endorsing new legislation to clamp down on so-called patent trolling, introduced by Senator Chris Coons and several Democratic colleagues in direct opposition to the much-maligned Innovation Act already sponsored by Republican congressman Bob Goodlatte. Last month, more than 140 universities warned congressional leaders that Goodlatte’s bill would interrupt the flow of discoveries from academia to industry by making it harder and more costly for universities to defend their patent rights. Meanwhile, the academic community has warmly received the Coons bill, which they see as more favourable to innovators and patent owners.

For example, the Association of American Universities said the new measure would target the abusive practices of patent trolls – which buy patents in order to claim copyright infringement and win court settlements – through ‘judicious, carefully calibrated measures’ that would not make it more difficult or expensive for all patent holders to enforce their patents. In addition, the US Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities agreed that the Coons legislation will help ensure the strength of the university technology transfer process, and the US Biotechnology Industry Organization also endorsed the measure.

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