Time to declare open season on trolls

The SE Texas Record Jul. 13, 2015, 11:38am


Troll slayer Unified Patents predicts that 2015 will set a record for patent litigation, with more than 6,000 lawsuits likely to be filed – the vast majority by nonpracticing entities, i.e., patent trolls.

According to statistics compiled by the organization, trolls account for 90 percent of high-tech patent cases. The three most active trolls are all represented by the same Dallas law firm, Austin Hansley, and file their never-ending series of suits in our Eastern District courts.

Earlier this year, another troll slayer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), released a report entitled Defend Innovation: How to Fix Our Broken Patent System, explaining how patents have become “a tool for intimidation and expensive litigation, chilling the very innovation the patent system was supposed to encourage.”

EFF questions the propriety of software patents, noting that they “tend to be vague and overbroad, and they often cover every solution to a problem, rather than a specific solution, and leave the hard work of making functioning, usable products to others.”

Dubious software patents are a primary weapon of patent trolls, who “now make up a majority of patent litigation. Their common tactics of frivolous lawsuits and forced settlements place a tremendous cost on innovators, businesses, and end users,” EFF laments.

An added problem is that “the patent litigation system encourages patent owners to choose court venues favorable to patentees and prohibitively expensive or unfavorable for defendants.”

Among the solutions EFF recommends are reforms to “discourage bad actors from sending frivolous demand letters” and to prohibit forum shopping.

In their quest to acquire unearned wealth, patent trolls and their lawyers deprive producers of just rewards, divert productive funds to unproductive uses, impede innovation, retard progress, stifle our economy, increase the cost of products and services, and threaten to deny consumers the untold benefits of inventive minds.

It's time for all of us to join Unified Patents, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and all the other troll slayers in an all-out battle against these predators.

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