A new law aims to relieve businesses of pesky so-called patent trolls. Patent trolls send demand letters to businesses alleging a patent violation, and ask for $1,000 or so not to sue. Attorney General Lisa Madigan says those demands are typically bogus. “Anybody who is purchasing technology as an end user of that – the scanner, the printer, software – if you have already purchased it, you have paid for the right to use that. You’re not infringing on somebody’s patent. You’re not trying to take that technology and use it in some way that you don’t have the authorization to,” she said.
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She said the scam has been popular in the last three to five years, and in the early days, many small business would succumb, thinking the letters were legitimate. The new law makes it a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act to send patent demand letters that are false or deceptive, that are sent by individuals who do not own the right to enforce a patent, and fail to explain the alleged infringement. Madigan says the law is written so legitimate patent holders can still enforce their rights. The law allows the recipient or the attorney general’s office to sue for actual and punitive damages. The measure was sponsored by State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and State Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago). It takes effect Jan. 1.