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Vt gov signs 1st-in-nation law to protect companies from so-called patent trolling

Vermont's governor has signed the first-in-the-nation law aimed at protecting companies from so-called patent trolling — the practice of making deceptive claims of patent infringement in the hopes of collecting licensing or settlement money.

The law, signed Wednesday by Gov. Peter Shumlin, allows courts to consider if a claim is deceptive and specifies other factors that can be considered as evidence. Courts can award damages or relief to Vermont companies wrongly pressured into paying licensing fees or a settlement, and the Vermont attorney general can conduct civil investigations and bring civil action against violators.

Intellectual property law professor Eric Goldman of Santa Clara University in California said Vermont's law is a novel approach but he said it's unclear if Vermont has the authority to regulate patent activity.

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