“Patent trolls” tax our innovation economy by amassing thousands of cheap, second-rate patents and deploying them on unsuspecting small companies, claiming unauthorized use of their intellectual property. These companies gain the rights to patents for the sole purpose of profiting through litigation or licensing, rather than by producing their own bonafide goods or services. The number of patent lawsuits has increased tenfold since 2000, and more than 60% of all patent lawsuits are filed by these “non-practicing entities,” up from 30% in 2009. And with an average lawsuit costing $1.6 million, the nefarious actions of patent trolls add up quickly. Settlements can cost upwards of $30,000, which can be devastating to a small start-up with limited capital. New companies are already at risk of failure for plenty of reasons apart from patent trolls unfairly gaming the legal system.
My legislation would protect innovation and entrepreneurship in the Commonwealth by prohibiting making a bad faith assertion of patent infringement and creating a legal means for companies to defend themselves from those litigating or threatening patent infringement litigation in bad faith. Studies have shown that in states with an already established VC presence, like Massachusetts, the passage of anti-troll laws leads to a 19% increase in the number of firms receiving VC funding, and my legislation can help us realize that economic potential.