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House members renew 'patent troll' bill

A bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced legislation aimed at reining in "patent trolls."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte's (R-Va.) bill targets abusive practices by companies that buy up patents for the purpose of extracting settlements with the threat of often frivolous litigation.

Advocates say the abuse has cost businesses billions of dollars a year.

Goodlatte, along with a group of 19 bipartisan co-sponsors, is hoping to push the Innovation Act "expeditiously" this year. The House overwhelmingly approved similar legislation last Congress.

"We'll be starting exactly where we left off from the last Congress — the same legislation that passed the House by wide margins," Goodlatte said. "We are picking up right there, and we are going to move expeditiously. But we have set no timetable other than holding hearings."

Next week, the committee will explore the changing landscape of the patent system, following recent court decisions and other changes at the executive level that some say contributed to the nearly 40 percent drop in patent lawsuits in the last year.

Goodlatte said the drop encourages him but reforms must still be codified into law. 

He emphasized that his legislation is meant to target abuse, not specific entities. A number of groups including technology companies, retailers and restaurant associations back the bill.

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