WASHINGTON (2/21/14)--The White House gathered stakeholders together Thursday to discuss patent law reforms--including addressing the plague of patent "trolls"--and the Credit Union National Association attended.
The White House event focused on the administration's efforts to strengthen the patent system to ensure it encourages innovation, drives investment, and spurs job creation.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Gene Sperling, Assistant to the President and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Michelle Lee were all on hand for the discussion.
At the event, the PTO unveiled a website to help consumers and businesses who receive demand letters understand their rights and get answers to common questions.
The online toolkit includes details about specific patents and patent suits. It also includes information and links to services and websites that can help credit unions understand the risks and benefits of litigation or settlement, and pick their best course of action. Credit unions that have recently received a demand letter can find resources to help respond at uspto.gov/patentlitigation.
CUNA and the state credit union associations have been active on every level urging lawmakers and the Obama administration that patent reform is needed.
In particular, CUNA and the leagues support legislation to help curb unfair and deceptive patent demand letters and frivolous patent litigation. In these schemes, so-called "patent trolls" use low-quality patents to extract settlements from credit unions and other targets, thereby abusing the country's patent system.
CUNA supports a number of legislative proposals currently being considered on both state and federal levels.
CUNA Assistant General Counsel for Special Projects Robin Cook, who attended the White House meeting on CUNA's behalf, also was highlighted in a Feb. 20 post on Inside Counsel, discussing patent troll issues.
The article noted that CUNA is "striving to bring attention to this problem and let credit unions know what they can do to fight back."
It went on to quote Cook: "Credit unions, coffee shops and other small entities get demand letters or get sued and they don't know how to react. They are not well equipped to deal with the case. They might not have an in-house lawyer or a patent expert available." For this reason, the article said, the demand letters sent by trolls act as a form of extortion, and credit unions often don't know how to make heads or tails of these letters.