Solving Business Problems with IP

Patent Trolls–What are they?

Posted in Uncategorized by dougy on November 28, 2006

They’ve gone from a minor, infrequent complaint to a de facto industry tax to the front page of BusinessWeek.

A “Troll” is not easy to define–every definition I’ve read does not exclude the genuine lone inventor toiling away in his garage, who invented a particular technology years before any of the industry players, and finally whose attempts to interest any of of these firms in that technology failed repeatedly, consistently, and uniformly.

Anyway, here’s my definition of a patent troll–the ones i’ve encountered seem to share a few or all of these characteristics:

  • they don’t make anything, they don’t sell anything, they don’t provide any service–in sum, they are not engaged in any cognizable form of legitimate commerce;
  • their demand for a license is nothing more than their promise not to sue the other party if that other party pays them a specified sum of money–there is no transfer of technology;
  • commercial and financial stealth: they have no commercial presence–no physical address and often not even a web presence;
  • Scott Lewis (a.k.a., “1st Technology” “1st Media”) has no website, his company name is different depending on which industry he is dealing with, and the contact listed on his press releases is his lawyer.
  • extraordinarily vague/misleading/false public descriptions of their business model;
  • e.g., “Forgent develops and licenses intellectual property and provides software solutions to a wide variety of customers”
  • not a genuine participant in the industry that it targets;