In the last year I’m sure you’ve read about the end of companies like Nortel and the scramble to buy up the patents. Apple, Microsoft and Google were among the companies that bought the patents as part of a consortium. Now I’m sure that you are thinking that they wanted them in order to create new and better products or technology with these items? Unfortunately, it was more of a protection measure.
In a term coined by Peter Detkin patent trolls are companies that buy up patents with the expressed intent of using them to sue other companies. The term applies to companies that do the following:
- Purchases a patent, often from a bankrupt firm, and then sues another company by claiming that one of its products infringes on the purchased patent
- Enforces patents against alleged infringers without itself intending to make the product or supply the service that the patent covers
- Enforces patents but has no manufacturing or research base, often they are just a P. O. Box
- Focuses its efforts solely on enforcing patent rights, meaning that is their only business
- Asserts patent infringement claims against non-copiers or against a large industry that is composed of non-copiers, meaning, they just sue someone because it is so expensive to even go to court, so often companies pay a settlement to make it go away, when in fact both parties know that they haven’t infringed any copyright.
Laws are being looked at and implemented, but they will need to be make so that they help small start ups and not the Patent Trolls and lawyers that seem to make much of the money at the moment.