Newsbreak: Legal News for Small Businesses [Video]
Small businesses may have a better chance of throwing patent troll under the bridge. Patent trolls are people or companies that buy and enforce patent rights, collecting licensing fees from businesses using a patented technology.
The Government Accountability Office recently came out with a report that patent trolls are abusing the system and hurting the economy. There has been a 31% increase in patent lawsuits between 2010 and 2011 with patent trolls suing about one-third of all the defendants.
Patent trolls neither make products nor supply services. They’re often financial companies who acquire patent right, collecting money from businesses that do provide goods and services.
For example, Innovatio IP Ventures obtained 31 patents relating to (Wi-Fi) technology. It sent more than 8,000 letters, seeking about $3,000 from retail businesses — hotels, coffee shops, and restaurants, who offered free customers Wi-Fi.
The White House and lawmakers in both parties are calling for legislation, which this latest GAO report supports.
Business owners are urging the Ninth Circuit to revive a case it dismissed, which accuses Yelp! of deleting positive customer reviews, after businesses refuse to pay fees. They claim Yelp! offers to hide negative reviews, if businesses pay for a subscription.
The court tossed out this case, stating the Communications Decency Act protects Internet content providers from liability for users’ comments. But the business owners’ lawyer says Yelp!’s actions amount to extortion.
Finally, if your small business uses an HP Officejet Pro 8500 or 8600 Wireless, beware. A proposed class action just filed in California court, claims these printers have defective transmissions and can’t print unless plugged in.
The complaint says that HP refuses to give refunds but just suggest “work-arounds”–that aren’t working.
Keep checking out Lawyers.com, where we’ll keep you informed on legal developments that help small businesses.