Friday, January 16, 2015

The Toll of the Patent Troll by any other name: Intellectual Property - Bloomberg

Symantec, Microsoft, Blue Cross: Intellectual Property - Bloomberg:

A patent troll, by any other name, may not be called a "patent troll" in court.

This would be funny, if it weren't true. The often called "patent troll" company Intellectual Ventures LLC, can not be disparages by such names as "patent troll" in court the presiding judge says. IV -- a play on the vampire concept of draining all the blood from the body of otherwise living and productive entities -- does not produce anything and has a monster war chest of patents which it brings out only during the stealth of night.

In the case of an entity that buys up patents but doesn't invent and doesn't produce anything, the company is often referred to unkindly as a "patent troll". In the real world, like cell phone makers, someone producing a product is exposed to other producer's patents, and vise verse. The players are forced to work together, license and cross-license in order for anyone to produce anything.

But the troll has a wonderful vantage point. Any product produced is fare game, and the real players in the game don't have much recourse if they want to produce anything and run a productive business.

Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) is another name for the troll, but it is not nearly so accurate.

IV was rated #1 troll in 2012 in the kingdom of patent trolls: here.

And, of course, the targets of the NPEs are larger and more innovative companies like AT&T and Google. In 2013 the "troll" toll in terms of law suites were up 19% from the prior year. (Fortune article on this topic.) It will be interesting to see what the stats for 2014 are since there has been a big drop in several types of law suits based on benchmark legal rulings.

For now, a patent troll, by any other name, will have to be by a nicer name, at least in court. I wonder if Patent Vampire, or intellectual property parasite is acceptable?

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