Congress is moving closer to passing legislation backed by the business community to curb patent trolls—companies that obtained broad technology and innovation patents in the 1980s and 1990s and are now seeking to profit by suing big technology and manufacturing companies.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation targeting patent trolls, and the Senate is starting to hold hearings on the issue. Big technology companies are hopeful for the enactment in 2014 of a measure restricting patent troll lawsuits and enabling defendants to recoup legal costs in such cases.

“Flimsy patent claims, often based on broad ‘business method’ patents, will continue to be a threat to economic growth and development in the future,” said Brian W. LaCorte, an intellectual property attorney in Ballard Spahr’s Phoenix office.

“New legislation aimed at shifting attorney fee burdens and other reform measures to discourage frivolous patent litigation remains a hot topic for 2014, and my hope is that federal reform will provide business, both small and large, freedom to operate in a rebounding economy,” Mr. LaCorte said.

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