Patent Trolls Strike Back: Trolling Rebounds After Brief Supreme Court-Enabled Dip

from the someone-found-the-loopholes dept

Following last year’s pretty good Supreme Court ruling in the Alice v. CLS Bank case, which effectively wiped out the basis of many software and business method patents by saying you couldn’t get a patent on “generic” functions, there was a pretty immediate impact on patent trolling. Courts were invalidating patents based on the ruling, the US Patent and Trademark seemed more willing to reject patents based on the Alice ruling, and even trolls seemed to be admitting defeat. Uber troll Intellectual Ventures laid off a bunch of people and OG patent troll Ray Niro indicated he was moving on to more lucrative trolling opportunities, such as in trade secrets.

But, never fear, the Patent Troll Strikes back sequel is fast becoming reality. The good folks over at Unified Patent have a report out on the latest numbers, which suggest the decline in patent troll activities last year was merely a brief disturbance and that patent trolling has bounced back significantly. While 2014 definitely showed a dip, 2015 has showed that patent lawsuits have gone right back up again:

And, it’s notable that a growing number appear to be patent trolls (or “non practicing entities” as some prefer to call them). The gold color are troll suits:
And this is all particularly pronounced in the high tech field, where nearly 90% of all lawsuits were filed by trolls:
And thus, despite the Alice ruling there seems to be tremendous evidence that we need patent reform as part of the solution. While another recent analysis shows that courts are still tossing out patent claims as invalid in a post-Alice world, it doesn’t seem to be stopping the lawsuits. And that’s likely because many trolls are realizing that even if their patents are invalid, it’s still much easier for many to just settle and pay up than go through with the whole trial process.

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Companies: alice, cls bank

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Comments on “Patent Trolls Strike Back: Trolling Rebounds After Brief Supreme Court-Enabled Dip”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Band-aids for internal bleeding

And that’s likely because many trolls are realizing that even if their patents are invalid, it’s still much easier for many to just settle and pay up than go through with the whole trial process.

And that right there is the key point. It doesn’t matter that the patent being used is likely to be ruled invalid(assuming any court other than an E. Texas one), because the vast majority of the time, it never even gets that far.

Patent trolling has never been about using valid patents to shake people down, it’s always been centered around the idea that it’s cheaper to settle than fight.

Until that problem is fixed, you can be sure that patent trolls will continue to shake down anyone who looks like they have money, secure in the fact that the validity or lack-thereof of the patents they’re using is utterly meaningless.

KeillRandor (profile) says:

Capitalism at work...

State-sponsored capitalism, too…

The problem with capitalism, is that at its worst, it is not simply uncivilized – it’s anti-civilization in general.

But to understand that, requires an understanding of economics very few people seem to have, (I wonder why? 😉 ), aswell as an understanding of human history, that is untainted by the propaganda of the rich and powerful who want things to work a certain way, for their own benefit.

What we’re dealing with here, are UNEQUAL economic relationships. The problem with capitalism, is that not only is it based upon such relationships, it’s about worshipping them and making them greater – exploiting them to their full degree for individual gain, and sod the consequences.

The biggest problem, is when people mistake the use of these relationships, and the so-called free-markets they form, as being the cause of civilization… None of which is true.

There is a reason why civilization was caused by farming, but it’s not because of capitalism – it’s because of the management, by government, of its produce, (of a minority), to benefit the majority, which then enabled people to be productive in many different and greater ways, since they no longer had to constantly hunt/fend for their own food.

Such economic regulation and management is the foundation of civilization, which capitalism, when taken too far, corrupts – which is why we now have so many problems…

The fact that so many people now think that the primary purpose of central government is defence, rather than such economic management – (how can you have an army without making sure they have food to eat?) – should tell us just how bad peoples understanding is, and just how deep the propaganda has affected our entire planet.

Unfortunately, western ‘civilization’ has often been affected by such problems, almost from the outset, and so perceiving it as and by the incorrect cause isn’t hard to do – (especially if pushed) – and so the best possible examples of civilizations being managed properly, (though they all have their own further ‘foibles’), tend to be more foreign – Central/South American, especially (before the Spanish arrived). (E.g the Inca.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Capitalism at work...

Trolls are state allowed extortion, not capitolism.

Trolls are not selling/trading goods or services as done in capitolism.

They are using the threat of litigation to extract money from other individuals.

I think a simple solution to this problem is to make it a criminal offense to suggest you might file a lawsuit unless a settlement is paid and NOT file said lawsuit within 6 months of the initial threat if the settlement is not paid.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Capitalism at work...

So what do you propose instead, Socialism? No thanks, you can’t centrally plan an economy because you can’t control all the variables.

Did anyone see patent trolling coming when patents were first created? No. This is not a capitalist problem, it’s not a state problem, it’s not a government problem, it’s a greed problem, and no amount of ideology is going to fix it.

Fee-shifting so the loser pays would help but I propose something more radical: the troll has to sign a legal document in which he swears that the patent is valid, that he has checked and confirmed this is so on pain of perjury.

Legal sanctions for lying on oath should then be applied. I doubt it’ll be enacted but if it was I’m sure patent trolling would be greatly reduced.

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