What Are Patent Trolls?

Before the government shutdown began, the FTC announced that it was launching an investigation into a number of alleged patent trolls.  This was, the FTC said, part of its attempt to understand the issue posed by opportunistic patent litigation, though one suspects that it was also partly designed to deter further litigation from these firms.

While I wouldn’t say that this approach is harmful, I’m not sure that it’s helpful.  Patent trolls are a symptom, not a cause.  They are the result of flaws in the patent system.  Targeting those who bring the most suits might offer some temporary relief, but it won’t solve the broader problem.

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1 Response

  1. AndyK says:

    Agreed completely. What is odd to me are these related issues: (1) how patent quality gets mixed into the equation without any proposals to reform the PTO processes or standards; (2) how one-sided the reform proposals can be (one-way bond requirements or one-way loser pays).

    Certainly there is abusive litigation out there, but the last thing anyone should want to do is throw the baby out with the bathwater and devalue patent rights as a whole.

    I’m always just very concerned that the money behind this effort (Big Tech, so far as I can tell) is not looking to solve a problem so much as effectuate a transfer of wealth from small “holdout” investors to big tech firms who want to be able to take technology if they can’t come to a deal.