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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Lawmakers Fight Trolls

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How you define the word "troll" might depend on your age. If you're over 30, trolling could be something you do in a fishing boat.   For younger people a troll might mean someone  butts into a conversation on the internet with inflammatory remarks.   In Pierre this week lawmakers dealt with a totally different type of troll.

Patent trolls are people or businesses who take out an overly broad patent, something that covers normal operations undertaken by people everyday.  The "trolls" then sends thousands of demand letters to businesses to try and get money for patent infringement.  Representative Kristin Conzet is a prime sponsor of Senate Bill 143.

“For example they threaten them and say if we don’t see payment in two weeks we will sue you.  This is a shakedown is all it is and it’s happening here in South Dakota,” says Conzet.  

The Bill aims to stop patent trolls in South Dakota by allowing victims compensation through civil litigation.   Proponents testify that other states have passed similar measures.   

But corporate attorneys and industry representatives with 3M and Caterpillar both spoke against the bill.   Company representatives say the legislation is too broad and may harm legitimate efforts to enforce legal patents.  Committee members were un-swayed they went on to pass the bill to the House floor by a vote of 9 to 4.

The bill then went on to pass the full House by a vote of 66 to 1. It cleared the State Senate earlier this session.   The measure is bound for the governor’s desk for final consideration.