Apple, Microsoft and others group to lobby against upcoming patent troll legislation

Apple is worried that new legislation will limit its ability to protect its own intellectual property.

Reuters is reporting that Apple, Microsoft, Ford, General Electric, IBM and other companies are forming a lobbyist group called the ‘Partnership for American Innovation’. The group is worried that upcoming legislation focused on patent trolls may adversely affect true ‘innovators’ as well.

The legislation is targeted at fighting patent assertion entities (PAEs), companies commonly referred to as patent trolls. These companies buy up patents but produce no actual products themselves, instead looking to exhort license fees and royalties from other companies.

The bill which attempts to cut down on ‘patent troll’ behavior, supported by Google and other names, was originally passed through the US House of Representatives at the end of last year. The law would institute ‘loser pays’ policies, which means legal bills of the winning side must be paid by the other side, hopefully disincentivizing entities from suing at will.

However, the opposition group is concerned that this will prevent their own ‘real’ businesses from patenting intellectual property.

“There’s a feeling that the negative rhetoric is leading to a very anti-patent environment,” said David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 2009 to 2013, who advises the group. He is with the law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore, LLP.

In particular, the group would oppose efforts to make software or biotechnology unpatentable.

The news comes as Apple and Samsung dive back into court, to fight over another monstrous software patent case in which Apple hopes to claim $2 billion from its rival.

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  1. Jacob Swanson - 9 years ago

    Perhaps with the exception of GE, this is a bad group for Apple to be associated with. These companies all represent entities with significant historical innovation, but low potential for future innovation on the same scale. This indicates that Apple believes it must protect its prior innovations in order to remain successful, instead of relying on the value of its potential. Google on the other hand represents a company that values future growth significantly more than past success.

    I am an Apple devotee, but it does concern me that the company is spending so much capital (financial, personnel, and reputation) protecting the past. This isn’t to say that Apple isn’t justified in their litigative efforts, but it seems that a true path to success is having confidence that making the “best products ever” requires more than the bare-bones plan described by a patent.

  2. 4nntt - 9 years ago

    As long as they lobby to fix the law instead of lobby to kill it.

  3. Daniel L. Lau - 9 years ago

    The law the house passed in garbage. Saying that a loser pays only means that small inventors will have absolutely no means to protect their innovations from corporations. There is already avenues under which a judge can award damages to the winning entity, including loser-pays. The laws need to focus on who gets a patent and having peer review of the applications. Right now, you have a patent examiner who is unqualified to judge a particular application but who must because there is no one more knowledgable. The National Science Foundation already does this with grant applications.

  4. cheeto0 - 9 years ago

    Apple has become a patent troll and is trying to stop patent reform. Its sad that this is what apple has turned into


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.