Internet Association calling for politicians to take action
A new campaign has been started by a group of US trade bodies calling for politicians to take action over patent trolls.
Patent trolls take out generalized patents, often on widely available technology, and then demand money from companies who use or offer it.
Shops and restaurants have been targeted for displaying QR codes and online store-locators, say the groups.
The radio and print adverts will appear in 15 US states.
"Patent trolls don’t make anything, they just get rich," is a line from the Stop Bad Patents campaign, which claims that businesses can find themselves facing demands for $100,000 (£65,000) to settle – a considerable sum but often cheaper than defending themselves in court.
Its organisers want voters to contact their Congress representatives asking them to "stop bad patents, stop the trolls".
It is a joint initiative between the Internet Association, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation and the Food Marketing Institute, all of whom say their members are increasingly being targeted.
"Patent trolls use bad patents to bully companies of all sizes, in every economic sector, from coast to coast," said Michael
Beckerman, President of The Internet Association.
"This is essentially legalised extortion, forcing hard-working businesses to go to court or write a cheque."
US President Barack Obama has already called on Congress to tackle the problem of people facing legal action over commonly used technology from others who belatedly take out patents on it.