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Are the patent trolls getting hungrier?

01-04-2012

Paul J. Sutton

The controversial term ‘patent troll’ is often used as a pejorative label for entities which accumulate patents with a view toward extracting licence revenues from alleged infringers.

The controversial term ‘patent troll’ is often used as a pejorative label for entities which accumulate patents with a view toward extracting licence revenues from alleged infringers. Other related expressions for these entities include ‘non-practising entity’ (NPE), ‘patent shark’, ‘non-manufacturing patentee’, ‘patent licensing company’, ‘patent dealer’, ‘patent marketer’, and ‘patent licensing company’, to name but a few.

The truth is, there is nothing unlawful about such activities, and the term has, too often, been expanded to mean any unpopular plaintiff. Patent trolls operate in much the same manner as other companies that protect and aggressively exploit their patent portfolios.

Their focus, however, differs in that they seek monies from existing users, as opposed to concentrating upon and contributing to future technology innovations. Patent trolls have no intention of manufacturing or marketing the inventions covered by their patents. By their initiating patent infringement litigation and promptly offering relatively favourable licence terms to their targets, settlements are often reached early by defendants seeking to avoid the huge legal and manpower costs associated with litigation.


US patents, patent trolls, Intellectual Ventures

WIPR

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