Illinois Transit Agencies Call for Immediate Patent Reform Legislation

April 7, 2014

Statewide transit agencies urge Congress to pass legislation curbing practices of abusive patent trolls

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., April 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today the Illinois Public Transportation Association (IPTA), along with its members, including the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD), and partners, urged Congress to pass meaningful patent reform legislation. Transit agencies across the state have been targeted multiple times by patent trolls – shell companies that purchase patents with no intention of innovating, but rather suing those who do. Patent troll threats have cost the U.S. economy $80 billion and counting.

“We call on Congress to pass legislation to curb the meritless attacks on transit agencies and other businesses, said Laura Calderon, executive director of IPTA. “Without legislative action, patent trolls will go on unchecked while our services and the customers who use them will suffer.”

Public transit agencies have been forced to settle with trolls rather than incur hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars in legal fees which could be used deploying high-efficiency buses, investing in improved light and commuter rail systems or enhancing public transit options throughout Illinois. Defending meritless claims comes at the expense of taxpayers at a time when public transit needs are great.

“Transit agencies are run by public money and we are at a disadvantage to defend ourselves from frivolous lawsuits by patent trolls,” said Bill Volk, managing director of MTD. “Now is the time for reform because this is just the beginning.”

Transit agencies are not the only ones being targeted. Businesses of all sizes and in all industries are at risk. Partners that provide technology to better serve riders, including cameras on buses and monitoring equipment for tracking vehicles and their estimated time of arrival, have been threatened. Todd McNutt, owner of MCS Office Technologies (MCS), was forced to close an entire product line and cut five employees due to a patent troll settlement.

“I had never heard of patent trolls, but in an instant my business and decades of hard work were hanging in the balance,” said Todd McNutt, president of MCS. “There has to be a point when we say enough is enough and stop these patent trolls from crushing business and innovation across Illinois.”

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week and is currently discussing reforms to the patent system. IPTA and many of its members traveled to Washington, D.C. in March to speak directly with staff members in the offices of Senator Durbin, Senator Kirk, Representative Bustos, Representative Davis and Representative Schock about the negative impacts of patent trolls on the Illinois economy, businesses and innovation.

More information on the patent troll issue can be found here. More detail on transit agencies and their fight against patent trolls can be found in this video.

About IPTA
IPTA assists its members in providing the best public transportation service possible. We represent the legislative interests of public transportation operators throughout the state, and promote a positive image of public transportation in Illinois. We promote research and investigation toward the improvement of public transportation and facilitate professionalism in public transportation through training and providing technical assistance opportunities for operators and their employees.

About MTD
In 1958, there were one million riders taking the bus in Champaign-Urbana. Today, we serve more than 12 million, with a growing fleet of hybrid buses that would have been a technical marvel to passengers from that earlier time. And while much has changed since that simpler time in public transportation, the important things have not. At MTD, we’re still driving forward, working together with the citizens of our community to provide service that’s second to none.

About MCS
MCS Office Technologies is a turn-key technology solution provider located in East Central Illinois. MCS has been in business since 1997 with a goal to provide our customers with the information, research, products and services for all technology solutions designed specifically for your business needs.

SOURCE Illinois Public Transportation Association

Source: PR Newswire

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