Patent troll bill, lacking consensus, tossed out

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) seal is displayed outside the headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tech industry hopes of a solution to the problem of patent trolls became more elusive Wednesday when lawmakers gave up on patent legislation after being unable to reach a compromise on some details.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced Wednesday he's pulling the patent troll legislation for the foreseeable future because of an inability to resolve some outstanding issues.

"Unfortunately, there has been no agreement on how to combat the scourge of patent trolls on our economy without burdening the companies and universities who rely on the patent system every day to protect their inventions," Leahy said in a statement.

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As we noted recently, a disagreement between tech companies and universities over "fee shifting," or who pays the legal fees when patent troll lawsuits fail, has been a stumbling block for lawmakers. It was one of a handful of issues that have divided senators in recent weeks as they tried unsuccessfully to reach a compromise.

The Senate bill was similar to legislation that easily passed the House in December, both aimed at reducing lawsuits brought by non-practicing entities, or patent trolls.

Read founder: U.S. licensing system is 'totally broken'

Leahy's decision to pull the legislation wasn't totally unexpected since he had previously delayed committee action on the measure five times while lawmakers tried to placate concerns raised by tech and pharmaceutical companies, academia and other industries(retail, financial services, etc.) with a stake in the debate.

By Amy Schatz, Re/ 

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