Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia has reintroduced his bipartisan “Innovation Act,” which is very similar to his previous 2013 Bill aimed at non-practicing entities (patent trolls). The bill proposed additional burdens for plaintiffs, such as demonstrating a reasonable basis for their claims early on, while lessening the burden on defendants by limiting discovery expenses, for example. Here are some of the bill’s main features:
- The Act would require the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”)to use the district court’s claim construction standard, which includes a less permissive range of prior art, during inter partes review.
- Patent owners must disclose all assignees, licensees, and interested parties, which may help to determine the true identities of plaintiffs, who often operate through shell corporations and similar structures.
- The court may stay actions against customers in which the manufacturer is a party.
- Discovery prior to the claim construction ruling is limited to information necessary for determining the meaning of the terms.
- Patent owners are required to clearly articulate their case, i.e. identify each claim of infringement, in the complaint.
- Unless their position is deemed reasonably justified in law or falls under other special circumstances, non-prevailing patent owners must pay for all fees and expenses of the prevailing defendant.