Patent Trolls

A patent gives an inventor the exclusive rights to their invention or solution to a problem. When a person applies for a patent, they send in a description of their invention along with official forms to a patent office. Unfortunately, the inventors and entrepreneurs who originally apply for these patents sometimes put them up for sale or auction, and nefarious actors who have come to be known as patent trolls then purchase them at a low price for the sole purpose of later suing companies that may be infringing upon the patent. Though there are certainly some cases where patent infringement cases are legitimately seeking enforcement of rights that have been granted, in far too many cases patent trolls are not actually using the patents that they have purchased – they buy them in order to have the right to sue, seeking licensing fees from companies in exchange for dropping their lawsuits. If you believe that a patent infringement lawsuit has been filed against you by a patent troll, then you need legal counsel from the experienced attorneys at Bochetto & Lentz.

The best way to determine whether a patent enforcement claim is coming from a patent troll or whether they are legitimate is to take a close look at the tactics that the lawsuit is using. The real question is whether the lawsuit is actually filed with reference to actual infringement, or whether they are simply offering the opportunity to purchase a license to use the patent at a marginal price. A person who is truly interested in enforcing a patent will take the time to cite evidence of infringement and to research the real value of a license. Patent trolls tend to file this claims against multiple companies without evidence and offering to accept a settlement fee in lieu of pursuing litigation. They are counting on the firms that they are victimizing doing a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether it will be less expensive to simply pay the settlement fees. This is essentially extortion, and it is particularly effective when it is used against a small business that does not have attorneys on staff, or who believe that they cannot afford to pay attorneys’ fees.

Patent trolls make their money by holding businesses hostage to the patents that they have purchased. They generally purchase a patent that covers a small improvement on a technology, then do research to determine who might be using this improvement. Once they identify potential victims, they file patent infringement claims and threaten to sue if they do not receive licensing fees. This is an abuse of the original purpose of a patent, and courts are beginning to recognize it as such. Among the steps that courts are taking are imposing fees on the attorneys that represent patent trolls. If you are being victimized by a patent troll, you may be able to turn the tables and fight back, but you need the help of an experienced, knowledgeable attorney. Call the law firm of Bochetto & Lentz today for more information.