Vermont governor Peter Shumlin has signed a law into effect that will protect businesses in the state from frivolous patent lawsuits.
Patent trolling, as it is called, has become a serious problem. Patent trolls file lawsuits with very little merit claiming some business has infringed on their patents in hopes of acquiring a payoff through a potential court ruling or settlement.
The unique law is the first of its kind in the U.S. It allows Vermont courts to determine whether or not a claim is deceptive and establishes guidelines for making this decision. These guidelines include whether or not the patent infringement claim specifies the specific patent in question and how quickly the plaintiff is demanding compensation.
The new law also helps Vermont companies that are wrongfully accused of patent infringement by offering relief and gives the state’s attorney general the power to make civil claims against alleged patent trolls. It is being celebrated for its hands-on approach, but it is yet unclear whether this power falls within the state’s jurisdiction.
A Colorado man who was fired after testing positive for marijuana on a work-related drug test has had his employment lawsuit turned down by the Colorado Court of Appeals.
The 33-year-old man, who was paralyzed in a car accident during his teens, worked as a telephone operator for Dish Network. He became a medical marijuana patient in 2009, and was fired after testing positive for the drug the next year. The company never reported that the man was ever unable to perform his duties. He filed a lawsuit against the company in an attempt to recover his position, but his case was later dismissed by a judge who ruled that medical marijuana is not covered by a law that is designed to protect employees from being discriminated against for lawful behavior outside of work. This law is most commonly used to protect cigarette smokers from being discriminated against as a result of their habit.
The court ruled that for behavior to be considered “lawful” in Colorado, it must be compliant with both state and federal laws. Colorado allows both medical and recreational use of marijuana, but it is still a controlled illegal substance under federal statutes.
Because of this disparity, marijuana cases in states where its use is legal in any capacity are much more complex than other states.