PATENT TROLLS BEING SMASHED WILL HELP THE ECONOMY!

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There is a segment of companies in the United States that only serve to buy patents so they may get money from licenses and to sue people. These patents are not being used to advance technology, but to harm innovation. Many companies are banding together to stop the harming to the economy and are starting to win.

What is a patent troll

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Here, via the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is what exactly a patent troll is and how they harm the economy.

A patent troll uses patents as legal weapons, instead of actually creating any new products or coming up with new ideas. Instead, trolls are in the business of litigation (or even just threatening litigation). They often buy up patents cheaply from companies down on their luck who are looking to monetize what resources they have left, such as patents. Unfortunately, the Patent Office has a habit of issuing patents for ideas that are neither new nor revolutionary, and these patents can be very broad, covering everyday or commonsense types of computing – things that should never have been patented in the first place. Armed with these overbroad and vague patents, the troll will then send out threatening letters to those they argue infringe their patent(s).  These letters threaten legal action unless the alleged infringer agrees to pay a licensing fee, which can often range to the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Many who receive infringement letters will choose to pay the licensing fee, even if they believe the patent is bogus or their product did not infringe. That’s because patent litigation is extremely expensive — often millions of dollars  per suit — and can take years of court battles. It’s faster and easier for companies to settle.

How the trolls are losing

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Here, via ZDNet, is how the patent trolls are losing finally.

In two much smaller patent cases that made it to the Supreme Court, Octane Fitness v. Icon Health and Fitness and Highmark v. Allcare, the Court ruled that prevailing parties can now much more easily recover their attorney fees in patent cases. Because defending against a bad patent can cost millions and a patent troll will often settle for tens of thousands, being able to recover your legal fees will encourage defendants to fight to the end and for trolls to be more wary of suing companies that show they won’t put up with abuse.

Rackspace, the cloud company, which just knocked out Rotatable Technologies’ rotating screen patent, pointed out that not only will Rackspace “not pay one penny to this troll, nor will Apple, Netflix, Electronic Arts, Target, Whole Foods or any of the other companies sued by Rotatable for how they use screen rotation technology in their apps.” And, the company also observed that because it’s now “much easier for those of us who are sued by a troll to recoup our fees from these extortion attempts,” this validates the “business decision to pursue every case to the hilt.”

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None of this has amounted to the sweeping victory against IP patents many of us have hoped for, but it appears that patent trolls are finally in real trouble. Between defensive patent alliance, such as OIN, and victories in the courts, the end of patent trolls may finally be in sight. It can’t come fast enough for many of us!

The trolls losing lawsuits will mean that people can start innovating without the fear of being attacked by people who do nothing to help jobs or the economy. It will also allow individuals to try and capitalize on technology, instead of being sued.

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PAUL SHANNON @ AMERICAS FREEDOM FIGHTERS

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