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Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA) reports:

States are rewriting their laws to make it more difficult for so-called "patent trolls" to sue small businesses over questionable patent claims, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

The trolls produce no goods or services, but purchase patents and then seek profit by sending companies demand letters seeking royalties and threatening legal action for patent infringement.

Roughly half of the companies targeted by these patent claims have revenue under $10 million, and the number of lawsuits alleging patent claims rose 12.4% to 6,092 in 2013.

Most lawsuits arise from firms that license or litigate patents as their core activity and target small companies, hoping they will pay a claim because it costs less than hiring a lawyer.

Inventors receive only about 5% of the money paid to firms filing the claims.

Such demands cost companies of all sizes $12.8 billion in legal fees, settlements or judgments, and firms with less than $1 billion in revenue pay, on average, $800,000 per suit to resolve the claims.

Some new state laws allow companies to sue patent trolls and require clear evidence that a company has infringed on a patent, rather than vague accusations.

Patent bills have been introduced or enacted in 26 states.

Meanwhile, proposals to rework federal patent laws are stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, as legislators disagree on how to combat patent trolls without burdening companies and universities who rely on the patent system to protect their inventions.

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