• NRA
    NRA We Serve America's Restaurants Representing nearly 500,000 restaurant businesses, we advocate for restaurant and foodservice industry interests and provide tools and systems that help members of all sizes achieve success.
  • NRAEF
    NRAEF Building & Retaining Talent The NRAEF is focused on developing a stronger workforce and building the next generation of industry leaders through education, scholarships and community engagement.
  • NRA Show
    NRA Show May 19-22, 2018 As the international foodservice marketplace, the NRA Show provides unparalleled opportunities for buyers and sellers to come together, conduct business and learn from each other.
  • ServSafe
    ServSafe Minimize Risk. Maximize Protection. For over 40 years, ServSafe® training programs have delivered the knowledge, leadership and protection that have earned the trust and confidence of business leaders everywhere.

National Restaurant Association - Why restaurants need to worry about patent trolls

Skip to navigation Skip to content

News & Research

Share:
Email Print
News RSS

Why restaurants need to worry about patent trolls

Patent trolls are attempting to extract large settlements from restaurants simply for using common technology that’s a part of doing business and serving customers.

Patent trolls, also known as patent assertion entities, are companies that seek to profit by claiming patent infringement that cover common business technologies. So what are they after?

For Culver’s, a 538-location casual-dining chain, it was payment for the use of two technologies used by many restaurants: an online calorie calculator and shortened web links in text-message marketing. In the latter case, Culver’s paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle. It was either settle or pay more than $1 million in litigation costs.

Culver’s is far from the only restaurant targeted for using an online calorie calculator. Starting in 2011, the same patent troll that went after Culver’s sued more than 50 other restaurants and retailers for using the same technology.

Steven E. Anderson, vice president and general counsel for Culver’s, told the company’s story before a recent hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering legislation to curb abusive patent infringement lawsuits.

“When we receive a patent troll demand letter, we have lost,” Anderson said. “These patent assertion entities are quite happy to tell us that we are welcome to test their claims in litigation, knowing that a trial is cost-prohibitive, with typical attorneys’ fees of well over $1 million.”

Restaurants have been among patent trolls’ favorite targets, and the National Restaurant Association is seeking reforms to end the abusive lawsuits, including:

  • An end to vague demand letters designed to extract early settlements
  • Specific explanations from patent trolls about exactly how a targeted business is infringing upon the troll’s patent(s)
  • Allowing lawsuits against the end-users – like restaurants – to be stayed while claims against the manufacturer of the technology proceed first 

A bipartisan bill is pending in the House of Representatives, and similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate in the coming weeks. The NRA is an executive committee member of United for Patent Reform, a broad coalition of businesses pressing Congress to end the frivolous patent lawsuits.

Contact your member of Congress and urge them to support reform: http://united-for-patent-reform.rallycongress.com.

Conserve RSS Healthcare RSS Conserve RSS

▲ Back to Top

New report

Spot Ad right

We're glad you're here!®

® 2012-2017 National Restaurant Association. All rights reserved.

2055 L St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-5900 | (800) 424-5156