What is a patent troll?

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Patent trolls are companies dedicated to the acquisition of patents, usually from firms with serious economic difficulties, to threat or sue third parties for the infringement of the patent that they have just bought.

What is a patent troll?

It is to be highlighted the fact that, they do not buy the patents for use the product or commercialize the object of the patent, neither for use them as a base of investigation matters. They simply, acquire those patents for obtain economic benefits from those companies which use the patents without license or, which want to use them. 

The geographic origin of this kind of companies is Unites States and it is there where they mainly act, although those firms are starting to act all around the world. This fact is based in the legislative nature of this nation. The costs that involve a trial in United States are very high, and this drive to the accused of having infringed a patent, to avoid the legal channels at all costs, so they try to reach an agreement with the claimant either by giving a compensation for the previous use or, paying them for obtaining a license for the present and future use. This phenomenon it is also favored by the fact that the North American legislation establish that each part pay its own Costs, win or lose.

As an example of firm dedicated to the above-quoted activity, we can find “Intellectual Venture” and its dozens of filial companies. They basically are dedicated to collect patents, in fact they are considered as the 5th American company that owns more patents. It must be pointed out that the way of act of these companies, nowadays, is completely legal; they are the owners of loads of patents and they use them and exploit them at their convenience.

In this world of trolls exists a pair of curiosities worthy of mention, before ending this notes.  

What is a patent troll?: CURIOSITIES.

As a first curiosity we can point out that two big firms, as IBM and Halliburton, have been trying, during years, to patent this “model of business”.

  • In the IBM application US20070244837 it is described a method for obtaining benefits buying the patents of a company that does not have enough resources for maintaining its patents.
  • The Halliburton application US20080270152 describes methods that occasionally contain the offer of licenses from the owner of the patent to a third parties, once the owner presents an accusation regarding the use of his patent.

As second curiosity, we can mention the existence of two opposed currents on this respect, which are geographically located in Chicago and Silicon Valley.

  • Chicago: experts like economist and lawyers of the University of Chicago, defend a model of patent´s system where, these are considered as any other good, and therefore, it is lawful and reasonable to obtain the maximum economic benefit of said goods. As a result, this region is becoming the bigger patent market.
  • Silicon Valley: the experts consider the patents as a way of knowledge that boosts the competitiveness and the innovation, and therefore, they see the buying and selling with them as an obstacle for the technological growth.

It will be interesting to be on these patent’s trolls, and observe their geographical moves. Their actions could influence in any kind of firm, in these times where the innovation and the technical adaptation make the difference between the business failure or success.

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