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Patent Trolls Increasingly Target Retailers Says NRF

Apr 8, 2014 12:11 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... The National Retail Federation (NRF) again urged Congress to act  immediately to protect retailers from patent trolls, which are described as shadowy entities that purchase overly broad patents with the sole intention of suing retailers for technology infringement.

“Trolls’ claims not only affect ecommerce applications and the everyday use of technology, but also the storefront operations of traditional brick- and-mortar retailers,” said David French, NRF's senior vice president. “Some real-world examples cover point-of-sale and inventory control equipment, including scanning barcodes, printing receipts, the sale of gift cards and the connection of a computer or printer to an ethernet network.”

French added that patent trolls target retailers more often than manufacturers and suppliers because the average retailer has limited legal resources to fight back.  The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is examining patent trolls' use of demand letters to industry players that accuse  them of patent infringement. NRF described how patent trolls are abusing the patent and legal systems, hampering technological innovation, crowding the courts, inhibiting job creation and driving up costs for retailers and consumers alike.

French added that retailers who challenge a patent troll claim generally face an 18 month court battle at a cost of roughly $2 million to adjudicate. The NRF estimated that patent trolls costs the economy $30 billion a year and it supports legislation and regulatory proposals that require greater transparency and specificity from the patent trolls, along with stopping the trolls’ abusive and costly behavior before the suit ever reaches a court. The NRF supports legislative proposals to have the Federal Trade Commission look into patent troll demand letters under its current authority to investigate unfair and deceptive trade practices.


Tags: congress, Jeff Miller, lawsuits, National Retail Federation, NRF, patent trolls, retailers, technology
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