VERMONT ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES "PATENT TROLL" IN GROUNDBREAKING LAWSUIT
May 22, 2013
In an effort to protect Vermont’s small businesses and non-profit organizations, Attorney General Bill Sorrell filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit today against MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC. It marks the first time that a state attorney general has filed suit against a so-called “patent troll.” The complaint alleges that MPHJ Technology has engaged in unfair and deceptive acts under Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act.
MPHJ Technology claims to have a patent on the process of scanning documents and attaching them to email via a network. The Attorney General’s complaint alleges that the company has sent letters containing multiple deceptive statements and demanding about $1,000 per employee, to many Vermont small businesses as part of a nationwide campaign. At least two of those businesses are non-profits that assist developmentally disabled Vermonters.
Patent trolling is a national problem. A recent major study out of Boston University estimated the cost of patent trolling on the US economy at $29 billion in 2011 alone. Representative Peter Welch recently co-sponsored the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (“SHIELD”) Act of 2013 in Congress to address the problem and the Federal Trade Commission held a workshop to address patent trolling in December 2012.
The Vermont Legislature passed first-in-the-nation legislation creating a new tool for targets of patent trolling and for the Attorney General to address the issue. Governor Peter Shumlin is expected to sign the bill into law today.