Sen. Haskell’s law protects businesses from false patent claims

BY RAMONA DU HOUX

April 22nd, 2014 

A bill sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell to make it harder for “patent trolls” to harass and extort money from Maine businesses has been signed into law by Governor Paul LePage.

“These scammers are a drain on honest businesses and the Maine economy,” said Senator Haskell. “This new law will discourage fraud while still protecting honest patent holders.”

A “patent troll” is a person or company that claims that a patent it holds is being infringed upon by a business, and then threatens to sue the business unless outrageous licensing fees are paid. Businesses are faced with the choice of paying off the troll or risking expensive and time consuming lawsuits.

The new law, “An Act Regarding Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement,” is modeled on legislation in Vermont that prohibits bad faith infringement threats. Bad faith is defined as lack of specificity of the alleged infringement, settlement demands or damage claims that include excessive licensing fees, and unreasonably short deadlines for payment of demanded monies.

The new law will allow for the victims of these suits to sue, and for the Attorney General to take action against the patent troll.

The law will go into effect 90 days after the end of the Legislative Session.