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WI 'patent troll' law protects credit unions from expensive, frivolous claims


Wisconsin credit unions have new protection against claims of patent infringement. A new, League-backed state law gives the Attorney General power to investigate certain claims as a way of discouraging frivolous claims that have been increasingly waged by those known as "patent trolls."


Patent trolls buy up patents, send out letters claiming infringement and threaten legal action if the business doesn't pay to settle the claim. Credit unions in the U.S. that may have used certain products or affected technologies have paid what amounts to extorted fees to patent trolls rather than face what could amount to a greater expense to research and fight the claims in court.


Under Wisconsin's new law, Act 339, there's now a deterrent to those seeking alleged damages for patent infringement. Those claiming infringement must supply the state with detailed records about the supposed infringement or face $50,000 in fines for each claim of infringement for which the details are not provided within the required time frame.  


"While Congress and at least 14 states have been working to pass legislation in this area, Wisconsin is one of only a handful of states that have succeeded thus far in providing a measure of protection and relief," said League VP of Government Affairs Tom Liebe. "CUNA and The League work in concert with CU Activists year-round to communicate about credit unions' mission and advocate for legislative and regulatory improvements to credit unions' operating environment."


CUNA also continues its effort to pass federal legislation that might further curtail abusive practices relating to patent usage. The latest federal legislation currently sits in a U.S. Senate committee.



The Unite for Good effort is an internal growth strategy developed by CUNA in conjunction with its Board, state leagues, credit unions and system partners. The plan's action steps – to remove barriers, increase awareness and foster service excellence–are aimed at helping more credit unions become their members' primary financial institution by compelling members to see credit unions as their best financial partner. Read more articles in our Unite for Good series.

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