The undersigned members of United for Patent Reform (UPR) have formed a broad coalition of diverse American businesses to pursue comprehensive solutions to abusive patent litigation. We write this letter to express our concern that the recently introduced STRONG Patents Act of 2015 will undermine reforms enacted in 2011, distract Congress from addressing the urgent problems caused by patent trolls and, in fact, will make it easier for trolls to bring frivolous litigation.

In 2011, after years of efforts, Congress brought new strength to our nation’s patent system and new vigor to the Patent and Trademark Office’s administration of that system when it passed the America Invents Act (AIA) with overwhelming bipartisan support. Among the most significant improvements made possible by the AIA was the creation of post-grant review procedures at the PTO. Now, the validity of claims can be challenged directly before the PTO, using the depth and breadth of the PTO’s expertise in an efficient and cost-effective administrative proceeding. These streamlined procedures can—and do—eliminate, narrow, or clarify ambiguous or otherwise flawed patents, and have already proven to be highly effective weapons in the battle against the poor quality patents that are the delight of patent trolls.

Congress has successfully completed the hard work of updating and strengthening the PTO. The AIA was many years in the making, but the salutary effects of its enactment are finally being enjoyed across our economy. Now that the modernization of the PTO and its practices is done, Congress has turned its focus to the next step in protecting and improving our innovation economy—stopping abusive patent litigation in the federal courts. UPR welcomes these efforts—including those of Senators Leahy, Schumer, Grassley, and Cornyn—to address the entirely different, but dire, problem of patent trolls. As someone with strong interest and expertise in the U.S. patent system, UPR encourages your engagement on this issue as well. UPR cannot, however, support the STRONG Act.

The STRONG Act fails to address the critical problem of patent trolls. Instead, it makes drastic and unwarranted changes to the successful new post-grant administrative procedures created by the AIA. The STRONG Act—if adopted—would aid patent trolls by neutralizing some of the valuable tools Congress has created to challenge the poor quality patents on which trolls rely. By undermining these effective administrative procedures for challenging poor quality patents, the STRONG Act would be a significant step backwards for the U.S. patent system.

UPR supports legislation that addresses litigation abuse, takes back a patent system increasingly held hostage by patent trolls, and returns it to its original purpose: fostering innovation and investment that benefits the entire American economy. The provisions of the STRONG Act do not support that goal, and in fact, undermine patent reform in several critical ways. UPR expressly opposes the following provisions of the STRONG Act:

These provisions—by no means a comprehensive list of the problematic proposals in the STRONG Act to which we object—contradict UPR’s goal of enacting legislative reform that will reduce litigation abuses and strengthen the patent system by ensuring access to efficient and fair mechanisms to reexamine questionable patents. The new administrative proceedings created by Congress in the AIA have proven to be powerful and effective tools for achieving one of Congress’s top priorities—ensuring the quality of U.S. patents. The AIA gave the American public an efficient and cost-effective means of challenging the vague and overly broad patents that patent trolls assert in their lawsuits.

In addition to undermining those effective post-grant procedures at the PTO, the STRONG Act also undermines other protections against patent trolls. Among other concerns the bill raises, it would explicitly overturn the recent Supreme Court case in Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies, which held that a defendant cannot be liable for induced infringement when no one has directly infringed the patent. By eliminating this rule, the STRONG Act would allow trolls to sue companies that merely provide general purpose goods and services for actions allegedly taken by their customers, over whom the companies have no control. Similarly, the STRONG Act would upset settled case law and dramatically lower the standard for willful infringement from a finding of intentional conduct to simply bad faith. By making it easier for trolls to be awarded treble damages, the STRONG Act provides an economic incentive that will lead to an explosion of new willful infringement claims from patent troll. And while the STRONG Act includes provisions providing the FTC with authority to regulate bad faith assertions of patent infringement, those provisions do not address the abusive demand letters sent by patent trolls. The STRONG Act limits the FTC’s authority, prevents state attorneys general from protecting their citizens from abusive patent trolls, and creates numerous loopholes that will allow trolls to escape liability. These changes will aid, rather than prevent, the abusive litigation tactics favored by trolls.

The introduction of the STRONG Act—which negates many of the salutary changes the AIA made at the PTO and undermines other important protections—will only distract Congress from the real problem facing the U.S. patent system: abusive patent litigation by patent trolls. Rather than revisit the battles fought during the passage of the AIA, UPR urges Congress to develop reforms that return the American patent system to one that fosters entrepreneurial activity rather than abusive litigation.


4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies)
Adobe Systems, Inc., Inc.
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
American Hotel & Lodging Association
Application Developers Alliance
Association of Global Automakers
Birch Studio Graphics
Callware Technologies
Capstone Photography
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Computer & Communications Industry Association
Dell Inc.
Electronic Transaction Association
FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)
Engine Advocacy
Food Marketing Institute
Goby LLC
Google Inc.
Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce
Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce
Heirloom Foods
Homes Eyewear
HTC America, Inc.
The Internet Association
Intuit Inc.
The Latino Coalition
MPA-The Association of Magazine Media
National Association of Convenience Stores
National Association of Home Builders
National Association of Realtors
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Grocers Association
National Restaurant Association
National Retail Federation
National Council of Chain Restaurants
Net App
New York Association of Convenience Stores
Newspaper Association of America
Oracle Corporation
R Street Institute
Red Hat
Reno-Sparks-Northern Nevada Chamber
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Retailers Association of Nevada
Rhode Island Retail Federation
Sabre Inc.
Software and Information Industry Association
South County Tourism Council (RI)
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
U.S. Travel Association
Verizon Communications Inc.
Virginia Retail Association

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