Joel Spolsky, Founder of Stack Exchange, and TechStars Leadership Join Hundreds in Open Letter to Congress
Washington, D.C. () – Hundreds of small businesses and entrepreneurs delivered a message to Congress today: “America cannot afford to let extortionist trolls continue attacking innovators.” The App Developers Alliance sent a letter signed by 247 app developers, tech industry CEOs, and startup founders urging Congress to enact patent reforms, including cheaper, faster way to challenge bad patents that PTO never should have approved. Hundreds more Alliance members have sent personal messages directly to their Members of Congress.
“Entrepreneurs across the country are telling Congress that it is time for reform,” said Jon Potter, President of the App Developers Alliance. “Innovators are frequently roadkill for patent trolls armed with bad patents. Proposals before Congress right now would give entrepreneurs a fighting chance, including by reducing litigation costs and creating a less expensive way to invalidate vague and overly broad patents through PTO review before trolls sue startups out of business.”
The Alliance letter calls for legislation that would:
- Create a cheaper, faster alternative to litigation by allowing the Patent Office to review – when evidence justifies – all business method and software patents so that start-ups have a chance to fight against the low-quality patents that are trolls' best ammunition.
- Require the Patent Office to create public searchable demand letter databases so we can track the basis and volume of patent claims and quickly identify abusive trolls;
- Reduce litigation costs by requiring parties to pay if they demand more in discovery than “core” technology documents, which are generally all that is needed to know if a technology is infringing.
- Protect end-users of off-the-shelf hardware and software. Just as coffee shops should not be sued for providing wi-fi to customers, app developers should not be sued for using off-the-shelf APIs that infringe a patent.
Proposals currently before Congress would achieve some of these goals. In May, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Patent Quality Improvement Act (S. 866), legislation to expand the Covered Business Method (CBM) Review program, which currently covers financial services-related patents, to all business method patents. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced similar legislation in the House, the Stopping Offensive Use of Patents Act (H.R. 2766), in July.
Signing the letter are dozens of startup founders including Alex Moazed, CEO of Applico, and Derek Dukes, who serves on the Engine Advocacy Board of Directors; innovators like Joel Spolsky, founder of Stack Exchange; tech industry leaders like Nicole Glaros, Managing Director of TechStars; investors and developers. The App Developers Alliance will continue to collect signatures.
The letter was delivered to Capitol Hill on the heels of last week’s two-day fly-in when more than a dozen Alliance members met with Members of Congress and participated in the Alliance’s Developer Patent Summit. Watch those entrepreneurs explain why they need patent reform.