NVTC Statement on Governor McAuliffe Signing Virginia Patent Troll Legislation into Law

The Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) expressed its support for bipartisan legislation signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe today to protect Virginia businesses targeted by patent trolls who abuse the patent system by employing bad faith assertions of patent infringement, which force businesses, including many small businesses, to choose between paying exorbitant and unjustified license fees or fighting the claim through costly litigation. The legislation, crafted by the Office of Attorney General Mark R. Herring and sponsored by Senator Richard Stuart (Montross) and Delegate Israel O'Quinn (Bristol), was strongly supported by NVTC, NVTC member companies AOL and Micron, and a broad coalition of business groups.

"We appreciate the strong support of Governor Terry McAuliffe in signing into law this legislation to protect Virginia businesses from patent trolls who abuse the patent system by employing bad faith assertions of patent infringement," said Bobbie Kilberg, President & CEO of NVTC. "The Governor’s signature today is the final step in a deliberative legislative process that included strong, bipartisan efforts, led by Attorney General Herring, Senator Stuart and Delegate O'Quinn, to help curtail patent abuse in the Commonwealth and its detrimental impact on innovation, job creation and Virginia's economic growth."

Background on the Legislation:
SB150 and HB375 establish criteria for determining that a patent infringement claim is being made in bad faith, a practice that costs the United States economy as much as $29 billion per year, according to a recent study. Those criteria include issuing a letter claiming infringement which includes false statements, does not identify the patent holder, or fails to specify how the target is infringing, demanding an unreasonable license fee, or reasserting infringement claims that have previously been declared baseless by a court.

The new law empowers the Attorney General to investigate cases of patent trolling and allows the Attorney General and Commonwealth's Attorneys to bring actions to recover civil penalties and to force patent trolls to change their behavior. Where settlements can be reached with patent trolls, the Attorney General will also be able to present such settlements to the court for approval and enforcement.