Taking on Patent Trolls in the States

We are pleased to announce the latest paper from students at the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School: “How States Can Fight Patent Trolls.”

Some context: the patent troll problem has gotten so bad that states are trying to come up with their own legislative fixes that fall within their jurisdiction.

This paper, by Marta Belcher, John Casey, Madeleine Laupheimer, and Brian Weissenberg, takes a comprehensive look across legislation passed by states to target patent trolls. They compare the provisions, the type of behavior the bills try to limit, modes of enforcement, as well as remedies and exemptions. The paper then goes on to analyze lawsuits brought by various state attorneys general under consumer protection laws and based on the outcomes, makes recommendations for lawsuits going forward.

These efforts at the state level highlight the need to address the patent troll problem, but state legislation can only do so much. The authors conclude, “Because bad faith must be asserted in order to avoid a state law cause of action being preempted by federal law, states can only really fight the egregious trolls that explicitly lie in their letters. In order to fully address the patent troll problem—a multidimensional problem of which frivolous demand letters make up only part—Congress must act.”