In advance of today’s hearing of the House Judiciary Committee to examine the recently-introduced Innovation Act (H.R. 3309), the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and 27 partner state lodging associations sent a letter to Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) to reiterate the importance of patent reform to the lodging industry and express support for the introduction of the bill.
In the letter, the lodging industry highlights the fact that patent assertion entities (PAEs), otherwise known as patent trolls, purchase patents on inventions for products they do not manufacture, and then sue or threaten to sue organizations they claim infringe on the patents. The filing of these frivolous lawsuits has increased recently, with innocent product purchasers, such as hotels providing wireless Internet access for their guests, being targeted by PAEs seeking to earn a quick settlement. These lawsuits, which are an abuse of the patent protection system and difficult to fight, pose a significant financial burden on the lodging industry.
“Each year, patent troll lawsuits cost the U.S. economy $80 billion in lost revenues and productivity,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president and CEO. “Patent trolls are targeting our nation’s small businesses, including many hotels, with frivolous lawsuits, the sole purpose of which is to force those ill-equipped to fight these lawsuits into expensive financial settlements.”
The letter notes that a majority of the lodging industry is made up of small businesses, with approximately 55% of hotels numbering fewer than 75 rooms. In many instances, owners and operators do not have the financial resources to fight this aggressive litigation, and often their only recourse is to settle.
“We thank Chairman Goodlatte for recognizing the significant financial peril posed by patent trolls and their wasteful lawsuits,” Lugar continued, “and look forward to working with the members of the committee to create a permanent solution to this issue.”
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