Today on CLBR – Patent Trolls and SXSW

In Segment 1 we have Daniel Nazer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) to discuss the EFF’s fight for legislation to counter patent trolls.

In Segment 2 we have Startup expert Tom Nora talk about his impressions on what is hot at SXSW Interactive.

DANIEL NAZER

Daniel is a Staff Attorney on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s intellectual property team, focusing on patent reform. Prior to joining EFF, Daniel was a Residential Fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. He also practiced at Keker & Van Nest, LLP, where he represented technology clients in patent and antitrust litigation. Daniel served as a law clerk to Justice Susan Kenny of the Federal Court of Australia and to Judge William K. Sessions, III of the District of Vermont. Daniel has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Western Australia, an M.A. in philosophy from Rutgers, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Daniel is the author of The Tragicomedy of the Surfer’s Commons (Deakin L. Rev. 655) and Conflict and Solidarity: The Legacy of Jeff D. (17 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 499). When he is not working, Daniel can be found surfing at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.

This week brings promising news in the fight against patent trolls. We have written before about how a broken patent system has led to an explosion of lawsuits by patent trolls (companies that assert patents as a business model instead of creating products). In the hands of trolls, patents become a tax on innovation.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, along with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, has re-introduced the SHIELD Act (thebackronym stands for Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes) in the House of Representatives. The SHIELD Act (H.R. 845) is designed to help the innocent victims of patent trolls.

Patent trolls use the sky-high cost of litigation as a weapon. It costs millions to defend a patent lawsuit. So while a few targets—including Newegg and Twitter—have fought back and won, even large companies are understandably reluctant to spend a fortune and waste employee time fighting a lawsuit. And smaller companies, like start-ups, might not have the resources to defend a patent suit at all. So even if the troll’s claims are weak, it can pressure its victims into settlement.

The SHIELD Act will help fix this problem. Under the Act, if the patent troll loses in court (because the patent is found to be invalid or there is no infringement), then it pays the other side’s costs and legal fees. We think this proposal—which is also one of the reforms proposed at our Defend Innovation project—is a great first step.

Momentum is building for patent reform. President Obama recently acknowledged that we need new laws to deal with patent trolls. This is the perfect time to tell Congress that it needs to act.

TOM NORA

Tom has been a technology executive and advisor for over 25 years, from startup to Fortune 100.

Past employers include 3M Corporation, Mentor Graphics, Roguewave Software, Rarefied Technologies, MediaUnbound Inc., Harris Semiconductor, Augat Inc. and others.

He also is a lifelong fine art photographer and oil painter

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