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The dangers presented by patent trolls

In our last post, we talked about the types of patents that are available to companies and inventors. What we didn't talk about in that post is a glaring weakness in the current patent system that is, unfortunately, being exposed and abused in recent years.

Given the broad legal powers and protections that a patent grants an individual or company, it is no wonder that some companies have delved deep into the dark arts of the patent world, filing for many different patents without ever having the intent of using the patent to develop a product. Instead, they gobble up all of these patents as legal investments. They use the patents to systematically sue any company or individual that even remotely infringes upon their patents.

The companies and individuals that do this are called "patent trolls." What's the end game for patent trolls? They want to make money by either suing other companies and settling; loaning out their patent via royalty payments; or being outright acquired by other companies, with the purchasing company solely looking to obtain the patent.

Obviously all of these things set bad precedents, and they undermine the functionality and trust in the patent system. It is a problem that needs to be addressed, and soon.

But in the meantime, it is the system we have. Companies and individuals need to be prepared to fight for their creative rights, and uphold their patents. If you are the target of a patent lawsuit even though you don't think you are in violation of one, then reach out to a lawyer.

Source: Yahoo!, "Why Tech Giants Should Be Wary of Patent Trolls," Nicholas Kitonyi, Dec. 16, 2016

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