April 17, 2013 - The House of Representatives held a hearing on April 16 in which IP experts testified about how much of an impact non-practicing entities (less charitably known as patent trolls) have on the procedures of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
The hearing mostly focused on the interplay between patent disputes brought before the ITC and those filed in U.S. federal district courts. Business leaders and some House members agreed that any changes to the patent system should target bad actors in general, not just non-practicing entities - and that "responsible" patent assertion is essential to the secondary market for buying, selling or licensing patents.
However, Santa Clara University School of Law School professor Colleen Chien testified at the hearing that an overlap in cases heard by both the ITC and the district courts can cause difficulties, and that "more than one entity does not need to decide patent validity."
The House panel was divided on both the issues of whether reforms were necessary at the ITC and whether NPEs in particular pose a threat to the patent system.