Senate to Mull Patent Law That Shields Big Biz

Upstarts would get lower damage awards if bill passes
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2008 3:49 PM CST
The bill's opponents fear it grants too much benefit to large, established corporate patent holders.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The Senate is planning to look at a patent bill that would limit damage awards and tip the balance of power between corporations and smaller upstarts, the New York Times reports. Backers say the bill will curb gratuitous lawsuits filed against technology giants by speculators known derisively as "patent trolls.” But others fear the Patent Reform Act of 2007 will stifle innovation.

Critics say the law will hurt aspiring whiz kids who want to protect their homemade gizmos. “I need as much patent protection as I can get,” says the former Apple engineer who co-invented QuickTime. “Otherwise Microsoft will clone a crummy version of one of my inventions, and I’ll be bowled over.” One scholar disagreed, saying that patent owners are not "entitled to more than your invention has contributed to a product.”