Vermont, a patent-rich state, is cracking down on so-called "patent trolling," a growing problem for entrepreneurs nationwide. Patent trolls, experts say, typically snap up patents in droves. Their goal isn't to create products themselves, but to make money by pursuing dubious infringement claims against businesses that supposedly encroach on their patents. They threaten businesses with huge lawsuits if licensing fees aren't paid immediately, often without including even basic facts about the patent in question so businesses can look into the claims.
On Wednesday, it passed a new law to protect businesses from bad-faith claims of patent infringement. Under the law, purported patent trolls can be sued by businesses that say they've been victimized, their customers or the state attorney general. Defendants who lose could be forced to pay all the victims' legal fees and damages of up to $150,000.
Patent trolls have become a significant problem in Vermont, said Betsy Bishop, president of the state's chamber of commerce. The state is among the top generators of patents per capita, and it's imperative that its robust startup community be safeguarded, she said.
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