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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 (the backronym stands for Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes) in the House of Representatives. The SHIELD Act (H.R. 845, pdf) 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.
Each week on the Adafruit blog we post up about amazing companies, people and articles about being a MAKER and a business. Over the years we’ve shared how we run Adafruit, published code from our shopping cart system and given presentations on running an open-source hardware company. Every Monday we’re going to try to collect some of these resources and tag them #makerbusinessmonday & #makerbusiness. They’re in our popular Maker Business category as well, enjoy!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.