Beware the Patent Trolls
entities (NPEs), aka
patent trolls, think they're getting a bum rap. Those companies
that buy up patents and then search to the ends of the Earth for potential
cases of infringement say they are only protecting the original inventors'
right to an exclusive claim to innovation, even though the inventor
is no longer involved. An article by Kris Frieswick in the February
2013 edition of
Inc demonstrates otherwise. Frieswick takes the unusually
brave step of naming names of the industry's most notorious abusers.
According to his research the practice cost industry $29B in 2011. Typically,
a troll serves the accused with a notice of infringement along with
proposed settlement terms which could be a license fee or purchase of
the patent. Neither comes cheap. Software, the biggest target, comprises
74% of all cases even though it represents only 12% of total patents.
90% of the abused surrender without a challenge and settle out of court.
Trolls count on that. Rarely does anyone threaten to sue a troll, so
the business is pretty lucrative with low risk. The best defense thus
far has been to prove existence of "prior art" on file with the Patent
Office that invalidates the troll's patent. They usually retreat back
under the bridge upon presentation of that evidence. Here are some related
patent articles on Inc.
Posted February 2013