Patent trolls have existed for as long as patents have existed, but the term patent troll originates from an educational video released to corporations in the early 1990s. It is a derogatory term used to describe people or companies that attempt to enforce patent rights against accused “infringers” far beyond the patent’s actual value or purpose.
Patent Troll Explained: How They Operate
In today’s modern era and in reference to patent infringement, the term patent troll is used to describe when a person or business takes any of the following actions:
- Purchases a weak patent and sues other companies by claiming infringement
- Enforces patents against “infringers” without intending to manufacture the patented product or service
- Enforces patents but has no manufacturing or research base
- Focuses its efforts only on enforcing patent rights
- Asserts infringement claims against non-copiers or against a large industry composed of non-copiers
These people or businesses tend to concentrate on obtaining additional money from existing uses rather than seeking out new applications for the technology. They also spend time reviewing published patent applications for signs that another company is developing infringing technology, possibly unaware of their own patents. They also target particularly vulnerable businesses that have much to lose or have little money to defend themselves in the hopes that an early win or settlement will establish a precedent to encourage other companies to acquiesce to licenses.
What Evil Patent Trolls want.
Patent trolls essentially buy a patent to own it with no intention to actually use it to produce a product. Their end game is simply– money. They’re hoping you, the alleged “infringer”, will be vulnerable and willing to pay a settlement (which is essentially a ransom) to keep the suit from going forward. Because of this, most infringement suits or patent troll cases are settled before trial – which is what the evil patent troll wants.
If you've received a demand letter or are being sued for patent infringement, don’t give in or feed the troll! Learn more about protecting your business. Speak to a business law attorney at Hendershot, Cannon, Martin & Hisey, P.C.
How to Deal with Trolls
The very nature of patent trolls means they are tenacious, relentless, and irritating. However, there are several ways to defeat a patent troll in court, such as design arounds, patent watch, clearance search, or patent infringement insurance. While some companies will cave to patent troll demands, others will use litigation to their advantage by challenging the patents themselves. They could do so by finding prior art that calls into question patentability or challenges whether the technology in question is infringing. If successful, the company not only wins its case but prevents the patent troll’s ability to sue.
If you’re being targeted by a patent troll, give our law firm, Hendershot Cannon Martin & Hisey, P.C., a call. Our philosophy on defending patent infringement claims is straightforward: We simply don’t stand for a claim brought against you or your business based on an invalid patent. Managing Shareholder, Simon ("Trey") Hendershot, personally has over 25 years of experience representing clients facing intellectual property disputes and leads our award-winning business litigation team. Patents can be one of the most critical assets of your business - so do not delay in contacting our law firm when you need legal help.
Let us help you protect what matters to you. Contact us at (713) 909-7323 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation. We look forward to working for you.