What is a patent troll?

Glenn W. Peterson

When you get into the world of inventing and securing patents in California, there are many different terms you will learn and a lot of information that will come your way. Something you might start hearing about are patent trolls. According to Electronic Frontier Foundation, a patent troll is someone who buys patents with the intention of using them to start a lawsuit. They search for anyone who could possibly be infringing upon the patent and file a suit against them.

This type of frivolous lawsuit hurts everyone in the system. Real patent infringement cases may not be taken as seriously because of the trolls. They send letters saying they will take the supposed infringer to court if they do not pay a fee. In a real case, a lawyer will typically send a cease and desist letter asking the infringer to stop selling the patented product.

Trolls usually succeed in their efforts because people want to avoid having to pay the legal fees involved in taking a patent case to court. These cases can take a long time and can be quite expensive, so the idea of paying a smaller fee seems best. This happens even if the supposed infringer does not even believe he or she is in the wrong. It is all just to avoid the hassle.

In the end, the troll wins. This only encourages others to start up patent trolling business ventures. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.