Vermont passes anti-patent-troll law

Vermont has passed a state-level law that allows companies to sue patent trolls who make deceptive claims in legal threats against them, and has used it to sue the notorious trolls at MPHJ, who say that anyone who scans a document over a network owes them $1000. However, it's not clear that the law will stand, as this is arguably federal jurisdiction.

The new law, believed to be the first in the nation, allows courts to consider if a claim is deceptive, specifies factors that can be considered as evidence, and provides for damages or relief to Vermont companies wrongly pressured into paying licensing fees or a settlement. The Vermont attorney general also can conduct civil investigations and bring civil action against violators.

"This bill will help to protect our good Vermont businesses from unscrupulous patent trolls who take advantage of them through bad faith claims of patent infringement. It will help us grow jobs," the governor said...

...Coinciding with the new law, the state filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing a Delaware company of patent trolling. The attorney general's office sued Wilmington-based MPHJ Technology Investments and its 40 subsidiary companies operating in Vermont.

The office alleged that MPHJ claimed to have a patent on the process of scanning documents and attaching them to emails via a network and that MPHJ sent letters making deceptive statements to small businesses in Vermont, demanded money, and threatened litigation over licensing fees

Vt Gov Signs Novel Law Against False Patent Claims [Lisa Rathke/Associated Press]

(Thanks, awjt!)



  1. I am glad to see someone going on the offensive against patent and copyright trolls but I would really prefer to see this happen at the federal level.   

  2. This is the same state that with a left- to very-far-left-leaning supermajority couldn’t pass GMO labeling or campaign finance limits because they were afraid of the possible lawsuits challenging constitutionality.  “Let someone else do it first” seemed to be their rallying cry.   I’m starting to worry they’re really going to screw up the single-payer health care implementation with the same tentativeness too.

    That said, be it a blatant patent troll or Chick Fil-A or Monster energy drinks, don’t fuck with our VT companies.

    1. VT will figure itself out, I’m sure.  Tentative isn’t the word I’d describe the legislature.  More like “over-deliberative.”  They take everything to the nth degree and hardly anything ever gets done.  I’m surprised this one even made it through.

  3.  They’re a state with a population of 600,000 and so have to be very careful of the fights they choose, suits have a great effect on their budget. They also have had some bad experiences in the past ie 1995-1996 rBST milk labeling.

  4. i’ve been fighting a losing battle over using the term ‘law’ in articles about whether a statute is constitutional. Marbury v Madison teaches that unconstitutional statutes are not law.

  5. why, yes. vermont IS awesome. i invite you to compare its legislature to that of, say kentucky or indiana.

    on the other hand, it’s memorial day weekend and it’s snowing.

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