“These patent trolls pose a high risk to the development of small business and innovation,” said Tarbet. “This is a national problem and we need the FTC to help stop it.”
Consumers, small businesses and non-profit agencies are often targeted by patent trolls because they have purchased or used off-the-shelf commercial products that rely on common, everyday technology. These products include printers, scanners or wireless routers.
In early October, the FTC announced its plan to conduct a wide-ranging investigation of known patent trolls, also known as patent assertion entities. The proposed investigation would arm consumer protection authorities with valuable intelligence as they target abusers of the patent system.
Recently, a number of states have taken action against patent trolls when they run afoul of state consumer protection and unfair trade practice laws. Although much has been discovered through investigating specific patent troll entities, the business structure and operating methods of other such entities remain unclear.
Authored by Nebraska and Vermont, the letter was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.