BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsline) — Idaho now has its own patent law on the books.
Gov. Butch Otter signed Senate Bill 1354 into law late last month. It will go into effect July 1.
The bill, which was introduced in February and passed the Senate 33-2 and House 65-1-4, aims to crack down on so-called “patent trolls.”
Difficult to define, a “troll” — a term coined by Peter Detkin, counsel for Intel, in the late 1990s — purchases groups of patents without an intent to market or develop a product. In some cases, but not all, the non-practicing entity or patent assertion entity then targets other businesses with lawsuits alleging infringement of the patents it bought.
Often, these entities send “demand letters,” which fail to disclose basic information, including the actual owner of the alleged patent and the circumstances surrounding any alleged infringement.
Idaho’s law defines such letters — the crux of the current patent reform debate — as “bad faith assertions.”
Also included are letters lacking a patent number, a demand for payment for a license fee or response in an “unreasonably short” period of time.
Under Idaho’s law, a targeted person or business can sue in district court. The court may award equitable relief, damages, costs and fees, exemplary damages in an amount equal to $50,000 or three times the total of damages, costs and fees, whichever is greater.
Also, the state attorney general is given the authority to enforce and carry out the provisions of the law.
Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Maine, Wisconsin and Oregon are crafting, or have passed, their own patent troll bills this year. Vermont enacted its own law last year.
And now New Hampshire is working on its own.
State Sen. Sharon Carson, a Republican, introduced Senate Bill 303 last month.
The New Hampshire bill, which has already passed the Senate and is now being considered by a House committee, prohibits a person from making bad faith assertions of patent infringement.
The bill, like other states’, establishes a private right of action for violations and provides for enforcement by the attorney general.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.