The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced its support for H.R. 845, the SHIELD Act. The bill, currently before the House Judiciary Committee, would establish new rules for intellectual property litigation that would require the loser of a patent infringement suit to pay the winner’s costs in certain circumstances where it is clear the asserting plaintiff did not invent the technology in question and has no plans to bring the technology to market.
FMI applauded the efforts of Congress to enact this legislation, which would constrain the use of patent litigation by non-practicing entities, commonly referred to as “patent trolls,” solely for financial gain. FMI’s support of the bill reflects that the patent troll issue, previously a concern primarily for software producers, is no longer confined to the high-tech sector, and now threatens supermarkets, pharmacies, other retailers.
FMI Regulatory Counsel Erik Lieberman explained, “Recently, FMI members have been sued, threatened with litigation, and/or sent demand letters by non-practicing entities for employing widely adopted technology, such as store locater functions and clickable menus on their websites. These patent trolls are costing our economy tens of billions of dollars every year, consuming resources that would have been spent on job creation, innovation and offering savings to shoppers.”
Lieberman concluded, “The SHIELD Act represents a well-crafted and easily implemented response to the escalation of patent litigation by firms that neither manufacture nor innovate, but rather exploit the high-cost and uncertain nature of patent litigation to demand exorbitant royalties on patents that are often invalid, uninfringed, or already subject to a licensing agreement. FMI believes the SHIELD Act strikes an appropriate balance between protecting commerce from meritless, aggressive litigation while also promoting innovation as patents are intended.”