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CUNA to House Leaders: Patent Bill Goes in 'Right Direction'
WASHINGTON (12/5/13)--The Innovation Act of 2013 (H.R. 3309) "takes a positive step" toward addressing the exponentially growing threat of Patent Assertion Entities, commonly referred to as "patent trolls," that assert patents of dubious quality against legitimate businesses, including banks and credit unions, the Credit Union National Association and coalition partners wrote in a Wednesday letter to members of the U.S. House.
 
The letter, which was cosigned by CUNA, the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America, was sent ahead of a scheduled Thursday vote on H.R. 3309.
 
That bill would remove some of the financial incentives sought by firms that assert low-quality patents in the hope of quick settlements. Credit unions have been sued for the use of certain ATM technologies, check imaging applications and check cashing applications, and providing members with mobile transactions through their smartphones, among other examples of this form of abuse.
 
CUNA said in the letter that it is encouraging that H.R. 3309's includes language that would grant the director of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) discretionary authority to waive the filing fee for the transitional proceeding for the review of Covered Business Method Patents program. "This provision would be beneficial for smaller financial institutions by helping deter patent trolls from sending abusive and extortive "demand" letters and ensuring that institutions of all sizes have access to the CBM program," the letter said.
 
However, some concerns with the bill still remain. The co-signors urged support for an amendment offered by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) that would require patent litigation claimants to provide additional disclosure information in any pre-suit notification.
 
The bill could also do more to ensure that credit unions and banks cannot be sued for patent infringement for simply purchasing new technology in good faith, off the shelf. Language in the bill requiring the PTO to conduct claims construction proceedings in a manner similar to the federal courts should also be removed, the letter added.
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