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Business litigation is dealing in new ways with patent trolls

In Oregon, a substantial source of litigation among companies concerns disputes over patents. These are sometimes legitimate conflicts between companies based on traditional patent infringement conflicts that can always arise. However, a problem engendered by unethical opportunists has been festering for decades as companies referred to as patent trolls have purchased patents solely to bring business litigation lawsuits and extract settlements from unsuspecting companies that they accuse of patent infringement.

These specialized litigators are sometimes called Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs). They acquire patents of all kinds solely to sue others for patent infringement.  They target companies that may be implementing related technology that can be attacked as violating the troll’s patent rights. Many business leaders see patent trolls as unethical coercers and unwanted interlopers. The courts, however, have swayed back and forth in terms of allowing trolls to operate, and attempted legislation has not solved the problem.

Experts remind business owners that their companies are not too big nor too small to get into the radar visions of the PAEs. The toll that PAEs take on some businesses is significant and requires aggressive and innovative defense strategies. If such counter-attacks are not regularly waged against them, any business exposed to an onslaught may be weakened internally. In the interest of forcing nuisance value settlements, these perceived business vultures are able to rip a certain layer of morale and spirit from a technology company’s operating underside.

For all the foregoing reasons, certain collaborative non-profit organizations have been created to stem the destructive work of PAEs. LOT Network is a leading example of this effort, based on the cooperative use of members’ patents to protect against trolls. Many of the largest high-tech firms are members. Smaller companies may join for free.

Another similar non-profit is called the Open Innovation Network. It is also is backed by some of the biggest companies in order to protect those who are working on the development of open source software. For Oregon companies and for businesses throughout the country, patent protection is becoming a collaborative effort to strike down those who would hold up progress by extracting undeserved payoffs through excessive business litigation practices.  

Source: venturebeat.com, “What it’s really like to be sued by a patent troll — and how to stop it“, Karina Tiwana, Jan. 20, 2018

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