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National Restaurant Association - Anti-patent troll ads target voters

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Anti-patent troll ads target voters

Advertisements informing voters of the risk that patent trolls pose to the American economy have recently been airing on radio and appearing in print media  as part of a joint effort by the National Restaurant Association, The Internet Association, Food Marketing Institute and National Retail Federation to urge Congressional action to stop patent abuse.

The ads, which can be seen and heard on www.stopbadpatents.com, have appeared in more than a dozen states, including Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. They describe the economic cost of patent trolls—entities that claim ownership of common business practices and seek to profit through the threat of lawsuits against businesses that employ those practices—and urge voters to contact Congress and ask for legislation to end patent abuse.

The ad campaign has drawn media coverage from NPR, the BBC, among others. David Balto, a prominent antitrust lawyer and former policy director for the Federal Trade Commission, referenced the campaign in a recent posting on U.S. News & World Report’s Economic Intelligence blog.

Cases brought by patent trolls account for more than 60 percent of patent infringement cases, and the number of patent-assertion cases filed has tripled in the past two years, according to a recent report by the National Economic Council and Council of Economic Advisors. Recently, patent trolls have targeted common restaurant practices like offering Wi-Fi to customers. Major chains, small businesses and technology companies have been on the receiving end of lawsuits from patent-assertion entities. Even when cases are frivolous, companies often settle because the cost is far less than that of litigation.

“Litigation demand letters from patent trolls is a significant and growing concern for the restaurant and foodservice industry,” said Scott DeFife, NRA executive vice president, policy and government affairs. “It is critical that we increase transparency and disclosure around who these companies are in order to change the market dynamics behind these frivolous and litigious claims. We believe that doing so will help provide significant relief for the restaurant and foodservice industry, as well as other end-users of the commonplace technologies often in question.”

The NRA has been actively working with Congress to develop solutions to prevent patent abuse, including improving transparency of the demand letters that patent trolls send to businesses. The NRA supports recent executive actions and recommendations by the White House to curb frivolous patent-assertion cases.

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