Apple has joined the list of major U.S. companies that have formed a lobbying group to oppose pending patent reform legislation proposed by Congress. Reuters reports the new “Partnership for American Innovation” group includes Apple, DuPont, Ford, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and Pfizer.
The change proposed by Congress would target patent assertion entities (PAEs), which purchase patents with the sole intention of licensing them to other companies or suing non-licensees for infringement. Companies, like Apple, want to limit the ability of PAEs to sue for infringement, but they are concerned that the proposed legislation may hurt actual innovations that need patent protection.
Group advisor David Kappos, with the law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore, LLP, and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 2009 to 2013, said, “There’s a feeling that the negative rhetoric is leading to a very anti-patent environment.”
The group would oppose efforts to make software or biotechnology unpatentable. Instead, they support efforts to penalize patent trolls for filing frivolous lawsuits.
Numerous technology companies, Apple included, recently asked the Supreme Court to make it easier for companies to collect attorney fees from patent holding companies that lose patent infringement suits. They argue this would help cut down on the number of frivolous suits.
Apple is the number one target of patent trolls, with an estimated 171 patent suits filed against the company in the last five years.