Trolling Effects Launched To Build A Database Of Patent Troll Threats

from the much-needed dept

One of the most useful tools in understanding the abuse of DMCA takedown letters is the site Now, the EFF, along with some other organizations focused on the excesses of patent trolling, have launched Trolling Effects to create a database of patent troll threats. As we've discussed in the past, one of the more nefarious aspects of patent trolling is that we really have no idea how widespread the practice is, because so many companies who receive threat letters from trolls quickly do the math and realize it's cheaper to just pay up to get the troll to go away than to fight it in court -- even if the recipient of a threat letter is absolutely positive they don't infringe. That's what the trolls rely on. Even if they have no argument, they know it's expensive to fight back. Most of the time, no one outside of the troll and the recipient even knows about these letters and threats. There's been no way to see how widespread this activity is. So even if we now know that the majority of patent lawsuits involve trolling behavior, the real problem is significantly worse because of all of the hidden transactions via bogus threat letters.

The Trolling Effects site is designed to (hopefully) provide some more transparency on this issue, by getting recipients of threat letters to publish them in a searchable database. Not only will this provide a lot more information for public study, but it will also help recipients of these letters know that they're not alone. All too often, the trolls "win" a settlement because the recipients don't even know how to go about fighting back. But if recipients can see that the troll sent similar letters to dozens or even hundreds of others, they can more easily band together to create an effective defense. Kudos to everyone behind this project. I'm excited to see what comes out of it.
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Filed Under: patent trolls, patents, trolling effects

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  1. icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), 31 Jul 2013 @ 3:11pm



    ...the EFF moves beyond merely data-basing the threats, but builds in a notification mechanism that allows multiple parties being Trolled by the same Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) to collaborate as to where in "troll-process" they are and if pooling their legal resources would make financial sense.

    Hopefully some enterprising lawyers out there emerge and realize that a counter-trolling representation service that forces any shotgun trolling attempts into a single case before the courts would be a good business to be in.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Vidiot (profile), 31 Jul 2013 @ 3:36pm

    Take a cue from Prenda...

    When the future began to look glum for Prenda, didn't they start dabbling in class actions? Turnabout is fair play; and if enough troll-threat victims were identified (by TE), could they certify a class?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Michael, 31 Jul 2013 @ 4:03pm

    Dear Trolling Effects,

    I am writing to inform you that we are aware of you flaragent violation of our patent for "Creation of a collection of information from while people can derive information about entities that are performing Intellectual Property protection through creative use of the US legal system - on the internet".

    While it is our position that you have clearly found and made use of our patented technology, therefore having willfully violated our patent, we would like to give you the opportunity to "do the right thing" and pay for a license for this technology.

    Since we have had a lot of experience in this arena, we are fully aware of the costs of development of this technology and the costs of defending a legal action and would like to offer you the license at 2% less than the cost of legally defending yourselves - or in dollars, $18,750.

    Please send a check or money order as soon as possible.

    Thank you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2013 @ 4:54pm


    You need patent and claim numbers...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Ninja (profile), 1 Aug 2013 @ 3:56am

    Epic win. It's one of these simple and obvious solutions nobody thinks about but make a huge difference when they are rolled out. I'm interested in seeing the reaction of IV and the likes...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    staff, 1 Aug 2013 @ 7:16am

    more dissembling by Masnick

    The word on the street is EFF and you are paid puppets for some of the world's biggest invention thieves.

    “patent troll”

    infringers and their paid puppets’ definition of ‘patent troll’:

    anyone who has the nerve to sue us for stealing their invention

    This is just spin control by infringers to cover up their theft and an attempt to destroy their small competitors.

    The patent system now teeters on the brink of lawlessness. Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, shell company, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to stop or pay”. This is just dissembling by large invention thieves and their paid puppets to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft. The fact is, many of the large multinationals and their puppets who defame inventors in this way themselves make no products in the US or create any American jobs and it is their continued blatant theft which makes it impossible for the true creators to do so. To them the only patents that are legitimate are their own -if they have any. Meanwhile, the huge multinationals ship more and more US jobs overseas.

    It’s about property rights. They should not only be for the rich and powerful. Our founders: Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and others felt so strongly about the rights of inventors that they included inventors rights to their creations and discoveries in the Constitution. They understood the trade off. Inventors are given a limited monopoly and in turn society gets the benefits of their inventions (telephone, computer, airplane, automobile, lighting, etc) into perpetuity and the jobs the commercialization of those inventions bring. For 200 years the patent system has not only fueled the US economy, but the world’s. If we weaken the patent system we force inventors underground like Stradivarius (anyone know how to make a Stradivarius violin?) and in turn weaken our economy and job creation. Worse yet, we destroy the American dream -the ability to prosper from our ingenuity for the benefit of our children and communities. To kill or weaken the patent system is to kill their futures. Show me a country with weak or ineffective property rights and I’ll show you a weak economy with high unemployment. If we cannot own the product of our minds or labors, what can we be said to truly own. Life and liberty are fundamentally tied to and in fact based on property rights. Our very lives are inseparably tied to our property.

    Prior to the Supreme Court case eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the eBay decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back into the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all patentees, large and small.

    Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

    For the truth about trolls, please see icle/142741

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Ninja (profile), 1 Aug 2013 @ 9:27am

    Re: more dissembling by Masnick

    This comment was sponsored by your favorite patent troll. Details at

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Brian, 1 Aug 2013 @ 10:03am

    Just a FYI - Patent Freedom ( has done this already, analyzing NPEs, average times to settlement for each product company, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 1 Aug 2013 @ 12:34pm

    Re: more dissembling by Masnick

    I'll respond despite your copious use of lies, insults, and ad-homs.

    It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to stop or pay”.

    Incorrect. This is about theft on the part of patent trolls. They collect patents that by any reasonable measure should never have been granted, then sue small companies and individuals for infringing on them. They have no intention of actually going to court (where their patents would probably be invalidated), but instead rely on the fact that their victims simply cannot afford to defend themselves in court and so must settle.

    It's called "extortion".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Mark Syman (profile), 2 Aug 2013 @ 8:41am

    This is one of many failed efforts by people who want to steal inventions. Patent are upheld and valid and infringed about half the time at trial, and will continue to do so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 4 Aug 2013 @ 6:46pm


    This is one of many failed efforts by people who want to steal inventions. Patents are upheld and valid and infringed about half the time at trial, and will continue to be so.
    And what about the half of the time that patents are held to be invalid and uninfringed, and thus not upheld at all? And what about all the times the times cases never make it to court because the allegedly infringing party can't be sure about the invalidity of the patent, so pays the 'settlement fee' just in case?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    bentwonk (profile), 11 Aug 2013 @ 7:31pm

    New Prior art patent finding tool

    Bit of a plug, but relevant, I have been developing a tool which can be quite good at finding prior art, so could be useful in helping to defeat a troll.

    It's free, and the beta is here :

    It's almost fun, (well relative to the subject of patents.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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