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Patent Trolls

The term “patent troll” conjures up all kinds of images and ideas, but what is a patent troll?  The answer is that there is really no universally accepted definition of what a patent troll is.  In the most common sense of the term it is usually reserved for those who acquire patents from inventors or companies, perhaps through bankruptcy, auction or otherwise, and then turn around and sue giants of industry for patent infringement.  In this situation patent trolls are typically extremely well funded, they are not engaging in any commerce, so they do not fear a patent infringement counter-claim because they are not infringing, or doing, anything.

Notwithstanding, patent trolls are starting to turn their focus in an ever increasing manner on small businesses.  Small businesses are typically easy targets because many do not have the funding, or desire, to engage in a litigation.  They see the offer of a patent license as too attractive to pass up despite the fact that they feel they are not infringing, or that the patent being asserted is likely (or almost certainly) full of invalid claims for which there is much prior art.  These bad actors prey on small businesses, banking on the fact that they will pay rather than fight.

Some have turned toward referring to patent trolls as the now popular term “non-practicing entities.”  This is a more gentile term, but don’t be fooled.  Many of the patent trolls would love to be called non-practicing entities because then they get to compare themselves with those who we ought to be celebrating; those who no one would consider vilifying.  Yes, the bad actors who are the prototypical patent trolls are non-practicing entities, but so are Universities, federal laboratories, Research and Development companies and even independent inventors.  In fact, Thomas Edison was in the business of innovating and hardly anyone would ever call his motives nefarious, at least those who are subscribers to the capitalist culture.

There are ways to combat patent trolls.  You don’t need to be a target.  In addition to the articles below I recommend those being sued or targeted by a patent troll read: What To Do If You Are Sued for Patent InfringementReexamination Would Stop Patent Trolls and Extortion Patent Style.

If you have been sued for patent infringement, or if you have received a threatening cease and desist letter, my firm and I can help.  To contact me initially please fill out my contact form and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Articles About Patent Trolls