Friday, October 17, 2014

Patent Trolls: How to Spot Them

What is a patent troll? A search on Google of course turns up results galore offering a biased view. If you're headed to court, you need a legal definition. It's the legal writing tip that sometimes going with a neutral, factual definition rather than a loaded, so-persuasive-as-to-be-hyperbolic definition can give you more credibility in court. Here are a few definitions from cases:

A patent troll is
  • "somebody who tries to make a lot of money off a patent that they are not practicing and have no intention of practicing and ... [have] never practiced." Overstock.com, Inc. v. Furnace Brook, LLC, 420 F.Supp.2d 1217, 1218 (2005).
  • "nonpracticing entities” who “do not manufacture products, but instead hold ... patents, which they license and enforce against alleged infringers." Amgen, Inc. v. F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., 581 F.Supp.2d 160, 210 (2008).
  • "a small company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based on the patents in question." InternetAd Systems, LLC v. Opodo Ltd., 481 F.Supp.2d 596, 601 (2007).
That's fine, but how do you identify one? Law librarians to the rescue! Law librarians are collectors and problem-solvers. The latest collection I've seen on the librarian listservs is tools for spotting patent trolls, as used by law librarians working in firms to help attorneys:
  • PTO’s Patent Litigation Toolkit;
  • Innography;
  • PatentFreedom.com;
  • Total Patent (Lexis);
  • Lex Machina;
  • trollingeffects.org;
  • Opportunity Finder Monitor Suite;
  • Docket Navigator;
  • MaxVal;
  • Patexia;
  • ThatPatentTool.com; and
  • RPXCorp.