Commercial Law – General Regulatory Provisions

CHAPTER 6-41.1
Patent Infringement

SECTION 6-41.1-1

§ 6-41.1-1. Legislative findings and statement of purpose.

(a) Rhode Island is striving to build an entrepreneurial- and knowledge-based economy. Attracting and nurturing internet technology ("IT") and other knowledge-based companies is an important part of this effort and will be beneficial to Rhode Island's future.

(b) Patents are essential to encouraging innovation, especially in the IT- and knowledge-based fields. The protections afforded by the federal patent system create an incentive to invest in research and innovation, which spurs economic growth. Patent holders have every right to enforce their patents when they are infringed, and patent enforcement litigation is necessary to protect intellectual property.

(c) The general assembly does not wish to interfere with the good-faith enforcement of patents or good-faith patent litigation. The general assembly also recognizes that Rhode Island is preempted from passing any law that conflicts with federal patent law.

(d) Patent litigation can be technical, complex, and expensive. The expense of patent litigation, which may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, can be a significant burden on small- and medium-size companies. Rhode Island wishes to help its businesses avoid these costs by encouraging the most efficient resolution of patent-infringement claims without conflicting with federal law.

(e) In order for Rhode Island companies to be able to respond promptly and efficiently to patent infringement assertions against them, it is necessary that they receive specific information regarding how their product, service, or technology may have infringed the patent at issue. Receiving such information at an early stage will facilitate the resolution of claims and lessen the burden of potential litigation on Rhode Island companies.

(f) Abusive patent litigation, and especially the assertion of bad-faith infringement claims, can harm Rhode Island companies. A business that receives a letter asserting such claims faces the threat of expensive and protracted litigation and may feel that it has no choice but to settle and to pay a licensing fee, even if the claim is meritless. This is especially so for companies and nonprofits that lack the resources to investigate and defend themselves against infringement claims.

(g) Not only do bad-faith patent infringement claims impose a significant burden on individual Rhode Island businesses, these claims also undermine Rhode Island's efforts to attract and nurture other knowledge-based companies. Funds used to avoid the threat of bad-faith litigation are no longer available to invest, produce new products, expand, or hire new workers, thereby harming Rhode Island's economy.

(h) Through this narrowly focused act, the general assembly seeks to facilitate the efficient and prompt resolution of patent-infringement claims; protect Rhode Island businesses from abusive and bad-faith assertions of patent infringement; and build Rhode Island's economy, while at the same time respecting federal law and being careful to not interfere with legitimate patent-enforcement actions.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2016, ch. 74, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 76, § 1.)