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New bipartisan bill could squash the widely-hated patent troll industry for good

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trolls flickr filtered
trolls flickr filtered

Today Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the Innovation Act of 2013, legislation with broad bipartisan support that experts say could solve many of the problems with frivolous patent lawsuits.

The proposed law would require the loser in a patent lawsuit to pay the winner's legal fees, stop the plaintiff from demanding documents from the defendant until the court has interpreted the patent, and crack down on shell companies.

"Taken together, these reforms would make life much harder for patent trolls and make the world safer for true innovators," writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that has long fought for patent reform.

Widespread malice toward trolls seems to be spurring a change in the law

Everyone hates patent trolls — opportunists who buy patents, usually in software, with the sole purpose of bringing lawsuits against entrepreneurs and extracting a payout. This practice is widely considered a tax on innovation, and a 2011 White House report found that "victims of patent trolls" paid out $29 billion to fight or settle claims.

This widespread malice toward trolls — who target everyone from small startups to large companies and even city governments — seems to be spurring a change in the law. There are several bills before Congress that address patent trolling, but the Innovation Act seems the closest to something that will please Republicans, Democrats, and the software industry. Representative Goodlatte told The Hill that a timeline for voting on the bill would be determined after a hearing on patent reform next week.