Tech Firms Fight Patent Trolls

Patents are among the reasons it’s difficult to break into industries such as pharmaceuticals and technology. Without patents, anyone can claim to be the inventor of, say, an iPhone 4 case that’s actually the product of someone else’s blood, sweat and tears.

Lately, however, patent trolls have managed to shake things up a bit. From targeting high-profile companies such as Research In Motion Limited (now known as Blackberry Limited) in the infamous 2000 case, they have since focused their efforts on smaller businesses.

What is a Patent Troll?

Patent trolls are motivated not so much by the desire to create something new and innovative for mankind as the desire to get hold of sacks of cash. They sue other companies for supposed patent infringement and collect licensing fees without contributing anything to the manufacturing of the patented products. In effect, they gain the rights, but not the responsibilities, that come with patents.

The Problem

You’ll be surprised at how easily—and how brazenly—these trolls take advantage of the holes in the U.S. Patent System. Take the case of FindTheBest.com, for instance. Lumen View filed 21 lawsuits against it in New York and Delaware, asking for $50,000 as an initial settlement amount. Should FindTheBest have decided to escalate the case to the courts, the amount would have jumped to $85,000.

Of course, FindTheBest CEO Kevin O’ Connor wasn’t going to take that lying down.

The Solution

O’ Connor wrote a piece for PandoDaily entitled “How to Slaughter a Patent Troll in 5 Steps”. Here, he encouraged entrepreneurs not to lose their cool over the trolls. Also, he says that businessmen who aren’t guilty of patent infringement should expose the perpetrators and team up with others in the same situation.

Luckily, his words didn’t go unnoticed by businesses such as Rackspace. The cloud computing leader allied itself with the Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) and launched the website Trolling Effects to combat the trolls, one of which contested Rackspace’s right to the open-source software Hadoop.

The Situation

The tech industry still has a long way to go in terms of ridding themselves of patent trolls, however. For one, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a history of approving too many patents for dubious inventions. There’s also the inter-fighting between the tech companies themselves, such as the lawsuits filed by Samsung and Apple against one another from 2011 onwards.

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You can get more information on our iPhone 4 case by browsing our inventory. Who knows, you may find at least one case that suits your needs, personality and lifestyle!

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