Patent trolls are individuals or companies that acquire patents with the sole intention of suing other businesses for infringement. They often target small businesses or startups that may not have the resources to defend themselves in court. The average patent lawsuit defense can cost $6,000,000 or more so the trolls are out to extort licensing settlements
One of the most common tactics used by patent trolls is to target lower level patents. These are patents that cover relatively simple inventions, such as a particular way of using a software function or a particular design of a product.
Lower-level patents are often easier to infringe than higher level patents, which cover more complex inventions. This is because lower level patents are often more specific and less obvious.
As a result, businesses that use or sell products that may infringe lower level patents are at a greater risk of being sued by patent trolls.
There are a number of things that businesses can do to protect themselves from patent trolls. These include:
- Conducting regular patent searches to identify any patents that they may be infringing.
- Obtaining patent clearance opinions from a qualified attorney.
- Including patent indemnification clauses in contracts with suppliers and partners.
- Forming patent troll defense funds.
Businesses should also be aware of the resources available to help them fight patent troll lawsuits. These resources include the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which can invalidate patents that are found to be invalid or unenforceable, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which can take action against patent trolls that engage in unfair or deceptive practices. You can also work with Patent Veritas which is an innovative company that buys patents in a particular sector and offers licensing services to avoid being sued for a patent infringement and they have tax favorable ways to participate and invest in their program.
The practice of patent trolling is a growing problem for businesses of all sizes. By taking steps to protect themselves, businesses can reduce the risk of being targeted by patent trolls.
In addition to the above, here are some other things to keep in mind about patent trolls:
- They often operate under shell companies or other opaque corporate structures, making it difficult to identify and track them.
- They may use aggressive and threatening legal tactics to intimidate their targets into settling lawsuits, even if the patents are invalid or unenforceable.
- The cost of defending against a patent troll lawsuit can be significant, even if the business ultimately prevails.
If you are facing a patent troll lawsuit, it is important to seek legal advice immediately. An experienced patent attorney can help you assess the validity of the patents involved, develop a defense strategy, and negotiate a settlement, if necessary.