Slaying the Patent Trolls: Proposed Cure is Worse than the Disease
University of Pittsburgh Law Notes, Fall 2005
3 Pages Posted: 21 May 2009
Remember the story of the evil troll who lived under the bridge and the three billy goats Gruff who narrowly escaped his wrath? According to the likes of Microsoft and Intel, the troll has relocated to the high technology marketplace. These major corporations are complaining loudly about “patent trolls.” The prototypical patent troll is a holding company that has purchased patents, often in bankruptcy proceedings, for the purpose of asserting them against manufacturers of products that the troll alleges infringe the patents. Patent trolls do not themselves manufacture the products their patents cover, and the patents may be of questionable validity. Nevertheless, the threat of an injunction if patent infringement were to be found helps the trolls coerce their target into settling the disputes by taking licenses under the patents. Because litigating patent infringement and validity can take years and cost millions of dollars, the target companies often agree to pay licensing fees rather than to fight it out with the patent trolls in court.
Keywords: patent trolls, patent licensing, patent infringement, injunction, U.S. patent system, U.S. Patent Office, H.R. 2795, Patent Act of 2005, litigation, licensing fees, validity, relief
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