SPRINGFIELD — Legislation State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) sponsored to crack down on "patent trolls" became law this week.
"Illinois businesses — particularly small businesses that aren't in a position to hire pricey legal representation and embark on lengthy court battles against harassing fraudsters — deserve the full protection of the law," Biss said. "The new penalties will put patent trolls on notice that Illinois isn't a fertile location for their scams."
The new law targets the practice of extorting money from businesses by threatening to sue them for fictitious violations of patents that may have expired or may not be owned by the "trolls" at all. Patent trolling is lucrative because many businesses, especially smaller companies that can't afford to hire legal representation, opt to pay the scammers rather than spending time and money fighting them in court.
Biss' measure prohibits misrepresenting one's self as the owner of a patent, seeking compensation on the basis of activities undertaken after a patent has expired, falsely claiming to have filed a patent lawsuit or using any written form of communication, including email, to falsely accuse a person or company of a patent violation with the intent of forcing a settlement. If found to be in violation of the law, patent trolls will be subject to civil penalties and/or forced to pay restitution.