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.

Filed Under: alice, cls bank, lawsuits, patent reform, patent trolls, patents, upsto
Companies: alice, cls bank


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  • icon
    tqk (profile), 14 Jul 2015 @ 3:59pm

    Not enough patent lawyers at the bottom of the ocean. :-(

    Is anyone in Congress the least bit interested in fixing this, or are Boehner and McConnell too fixated on helping Obama start WWIII?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 6:44am

      Re: Not enough patent lawyers at the bottom of the ocean. :-(

      Off topic rant? - Why not.
      Changing the subject is a favorite ploy.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 11:35am

        Re: Re: Not enough patent lawyers at the bottom of the ocean. :-(

        kinda on topic really

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:34am

          Re: Re: Re: Not enough patent lawyers at the bottom of the ocean. :-(

          How does a ridiculous statement about WWIII have anything to do with "Trolling Rebounds After Brief Supreme Court-Enabled Dip" ?

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 14 Jul 2015 @ 4:06pm

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 11:36am

      Re: Band-aids for internal bleeding

      "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."

      That's the crux of the biscuit right there, fix that congress critters.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jul 2015 @ 4:27pm

    Forget trolling.

    Presenting an invalid patent as valid, and using it to extract settlements under threat of legal action would seem to be fairly clear extortion and fraud.

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

    • identicon
      Christenson, 14 Jul 2015 @ 4:38pm

      Re:

      Umm, yes, but can you get an E Texas prosecutor to see it that way???

      Still: There's a *big* loss to any productive entity the second it sets foot in the courthouse door -- it's the distraction!

      So, fee shifting has to allow for the threatened to recover triple damages and triple costs.

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

  • icon
    KeillRandor (profile), 14 Jul 2015 @ 5:02pm

    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.)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 7:56am

      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.

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

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 16 Jul 2015 @ 5:30am

      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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jul 2015 @ 6:14pm

    Makes one long for the good old days, Alphonse Capone, Teflon Don, and Jimmy Hoffa. Organized crime sure doesn't have the class it did back then.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jul 2015 @ 9:14pm

    The entire government is captured by big money and it's next to impossible to get anything to change that goes against big money interest.

    This is one of the many symptoms that's bleeding this country out.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 7:45am

    In resource extraction industries (logging, mining, removing money from other people's pockets, etc.) there is almost always an uptick in activity before regulations are enacted to rein in bad behavior. This will end, but more companies will be bled before it's over.

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

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 15 Jul 2015 @ 8:25am

    I think part of the patent process that needs to be required is a working model. That will probably kill of about 75% trolls.

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


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