Foodservice Equipment Reports

Restaurant Industry Urges Senate Action On Patent Reform

The National Restaurant Association and 36 state restaurant associations have called on Senate leaders to support reforms that will provide restaurateurs and other technology end-users with relief from what it calls “abusive demands from patent trolls.”

Operators have been increasingly barraged with patent-infringement litigation demand letters challenging the use of basic technologies, both in restaurant establishments and websites, as well as on individuals’ smartphones, according to the NRA.

The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance is examining the impact of demand letters sent by patent trolls on small business.

A letter sent by the NRA and its state partners urges Senate action on behalf of the restaurant and foodservice industry; roughly 90% of them are small-business owners unable to afford the time and resources to litigate claims.

According to the letter, “Many of the technologies that have come under fire from patent trolls are ones that provide extensive value-added services to our customers, such as in-store Internet WiFi access, online nutrition calculators and restaurant locators on websites and in store-branded smartphone applications.”

The associations urge patent litigation reform and increased transparency on demand letters to make it more difficult for patent trolls to prey on end-user companies, such as restaurants. 

“Demand letters often lack the information and transparency necessary for business owners to research and make a simple assessment about whether the patent infringement claim has merit. Requiring additional information and transparency on the actual demand letters, as well as increased information online at a trusted third-party website about pending patent litigation and patent troll companies, will help provide small-business owners with a first line of defense to assess the validity of many of the patent infringement claims they are seeing at an increasingly alarming rate.”