WESTBROOK, Maine (4/21/14)--In a victory for state credit unions earned on the strength of their grassroots efforts, Maine's patent "troll" bill became law last week.
L.D. 1660, An Act Regarding Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement, will become effective 90 days after the Legislature adjourns (Weekly Update April 18). The bill's passage required grassroots efforts and advocacy from the Maine Credit Union League and credit unions to House members communicating the importance of passing the bill's Majority Report, which was identified as the version with the best chance to become law.
Patent law reform to address "trolls" is a significant issue for credit unions and is seeing a lot of attention from lawmakers on both the federal and state levels.
Without actually inventing anything or adding to innovation, patent trolls buy up patents in order to extract fees--or legal settlements--from other companies that may use that technology. Small companies such as credit unions find themselves between a rock and a hard place: paying what amounts to extorted fees may be cheaper than fighting the trolls in court.
After state credit union advocates and the members of the league's governmental affairs team made hundreds of calls and scheduled multiple meetings with legislators, the House voted to accept the version passed unanimously by the Senate.
"It was truly a team effort, and a remarkable demonstration of the importance of getting involved. Achieving this outcome represents a significant victory for credit unions in reducing and preventing frivolous and costly bad faith patent assertions," said league President John Murphy. "We appreciate everyone's hard work on this effort including a number of legislators who stood up and spoke in support of this bill and the credit union position."
Lawmakers who Murphy cited for their support include: