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Representatives Chu, Farenthold Urge FTC to Protect End Users from Patent Trolls

June 5, 2013
Press Release
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27) and Blake Farenthold (TX-27) sent a bi-partisan letter to the Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez urging the FTC to examine the practices of patent assertion entities that wrongfully target end users. End users are consumers and businesses who use off-the-shelf products for their intended use.
 
Abusive lawsuits brought on by patent assertion entities, commonly known as patent trolls, cost the U.S. economy more than $29 billion annually.  Patent troll suits, which have increased 400 percent since 2005, are often aggressive or opportunistic lawsuits filed against end users even after they have rightfully purchased products or services in the marketplace. The FTC is the nation’s agency that protects consumers from fraud, deception and unfair business practices. The letter urges the FTC to build on its work on the antitrust and competition implications, and take action against patent trolls for consumer protection violations under its Section 5 authority of the FTC Act if any deceptive or unfair practices are found. 
 
“We are most concerned about practices that target end users who are the downstream users of technology,” Reps. Chu and Farenthold say in the letter.  “These end users include individual consumers, non-profits, local governments, and small to large businesses.”  
 
“We can’t let patent trolls hide under the bridge any longer -- we must expose them of their deceptive practices,” said Rep. Chu. “Patent trolls abuse the marketplace for financial gain and target end users who have every right to enjoy the products and services they purchased. The FTC has a role to play in ensuring every American consumer is protected from those who use wrongful business practices to make a quick buck.”
 
“Patent trolls do not exist to innovate, manufacture, or sell goods and services.  They exist to sue legitimate enterprises and individuals and exploit the patent system,” said Rep. Farenthold.  “If we do not update the system to protect end users from these abusive and costly lawsuits, patent trolls will continue to stifle American innovation and job creation.”   
 
Protecting end users from patent troll litigation abuse is an idea with bipartisan, bicameral support, and was recently endorsed by the White House Task Forces on High-Tech Patent Issues. 
 
The full letter can be found here, and the following is the complete list of cosigners:
 
Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)                               
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Steve Chabot (R-OH)                                      
Hank Johnson, Jr. (D-GA)
Darrell Issa (R-CA)                                          
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Trent Franks (R-AZ)                                        
Peter DeFazio (D-OR) 
Jared Polis (D-CO)                                          
Pete Olson (R-TX)
Andy Harris (R-MD)                                        
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Dave Loebsack (D-IA)                                                
Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Juan Vargas (D-CA)                                        
Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)