Inventors and consumers in Ohio may have heard of ‘patent trolls.” The common perception of a patent troll is someone who files a baseless suit for patent infringement, hoping that the defendant in the suit will settle for a sizable sum rather than pay the legal costs involved in defending against such frivolous suits. Some individuals or organizations do this by purchasing patents from original inventors cheaply and then suing large enterprises that manufacture devices similar to their patents.
Some of those involved in business litigation involving patents prefer to be known as patent assertion entities. These may be legal firms, but many of them are manufacturers or other companies that have assembled portfolios of patents in the course of their business. They want it to be known that they share the proceeds of successful litigation with the inventors who sold them their patents. Patent assertion entities point out that an inventor is often defenseless against a large corporation in an intellectual property dispute. The cost of litigation can be prohibitive for an individual inventor.
Patent assertion entities support government efforts to end frivolous and extortive lawsuits regarding patents but want the distinction to be made between patent trolls and patent assertion entities. Intellectual property is property, after all. Ownership of such property has a legal standing. The Obama Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have efforts underway to strengthen protections for inventors so that unscrupulous attorneys do not take advantage of them.
Inventors, manufacturers or anyone else who owns a patent should have it reviewed by an attorney. A qualified patent attorney can discuss the likelihood that the patent holder will be sued for patent infringement and if so, what steps can be reasonably taken to protect the rights of the intellectual property.
Source: CNN Money, “Patent troll: ‘I’m ethical and moral’“, David Goldman , July 02, 2013