WASHINGTON (2/6/14)--"Patent trolls" may sound like fictional phantasms, but they present a dangerous reality to credit unions and their members, adding to the costs of providing financial services--and shouldn't be taken lightly, Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney writes in a
The so-called "trolls" use low-quality patents to try to extract settlements from credit unions and others and are an abuse of the patent system, CUNA has said. 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.
"The more I heard about what patent trolls do, and how they bedevil small financial institutions--including credit unions--the more I became convinced that something had to be done to stop them, and right away," Cheney wrote.
The CUNA CEO noted that efforts to address this issue are under way in the U.S. Congress. "And the faster the action to stop or slow down the trolls, the better--to ensure that consumers, including credit union members, don't lose access to convenient services, or even their favorite small financial institutions," he said.
CUNA backs legislation that would curb abusive patent litigation by removing some of the financial incentives sought by firms that assert low-quality patents.
"If you are a member of a credit union, a customer at another small financial institution, or an owner of a small business, I hope you will contact your senator and let them know you are behind efforts to combat the tactics of the trolls," he wrote.
"When these reforms are successfully adopted--and, with your help, they will be--perhaps the next time any of us hear mention of 'trolls,' it will be about the latest character in the 'Hobbit' film, and not a character attempting to extort money from your local credit union or other small financial institutions," Cheney wrote.
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