Vermont goes after frivolous patent suits

KWIKA partner Jonathan Steinsapir was quoted by Law360.com in Ryan Davis’s article on the state of Vermont’s hardline effort to rein-in patent infringement lawsuits brought in bad faith.

While it’s not clear why the Green Mountain State is suddenly cracking down on patent “trolls,” its unprecedented efforts are evidenced in a brand new law making it easier for companies to counter-sue patent owners who go fishing for a quick settlement.  Plus, the state attorney general recently held a patent-holding company’s feet to the fire on the ground of consumer protection law violations, claiming the company targeted Vermont businesses in frivolous infringement suits.

The interesting thing about all of this is that federal patent law usually preempts state statutes, so several attorneys who were asked to comment on the issue seemed to think Vermont’s position is mostly pointless.

Jonathan, however, noted that not all state patent regulations are superseded by federal law.  In addition, he commented on the narrow focus of this legislation:  “What I find interesting is that the Vermont statute is not really generally applicable.  It’s targeted to patent litigation, so it’s probably not going to be allowed.”