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'Patent trolls' targeted for vanquishment by astute tech firms

In California, intellectual property is at a premium. With the large number of companies focused on technology and any other manner of business, there is a lot of competition for ideas.

Our Sacramento readers who are familiar with the Internet know that it has its own lingo that has become part of the mainstream. For example, "spam" used to just be a processed meat product, but now it serves as a synonym for unwanted junk email. Nowadays, just about everyone knows what a blog is -- if you don't realize it, you're reading one now -- but a few years ago, the word would have sounded like nonsense.

Another word that has entered common usage is "troll." Of course, many people know a troll as a mythical creature who lives under a bridge and torments passers-by. In similar fashion, an online troll is a person who makes outrageously inappropriate comments on message boards for the sole purpose of being contrary and stirring up trouble.

A new iteration of this phenomenon is the "patent troll" -- a company that files suits against tech companies for allegedly violating patents and misappropriating intellectual property, even though it doesn't use that intellectual property for any product. In many cases, these claims are spurious and meant only to encourage the targets to settle out of court to make the problem go away.

Recently, though, tech firms have gotten better at fending off these patent trolls. Some have threatened them by invoking anti-racketeering laws; others have invested time and money into coming up with strategies to better insulate their businesses from the patent trolls. Companies concerned with protecting their intellectual property from incursions like this often turn to the advice of California intellectual property attorneys.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Tech firms fighting back against patent trolls," Caleb Garling, Sept. 17, 2013

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