A report by Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University, shows that 61 per cent of all patent lawsuits filed in the last year were brought by “patent-assertion entities”. That might sound like legalese — because it is! — but in simple terms that means people or companies who assert patents as a business model rather than building their own product or technology. In other words, trolls.
Perhaps most amazing is the rapid rise that patent trolling has seen. Last year 45 per cent of patent cases were brought about by trolls, according to the research, and five years ago it was just 23 per cent. Chien also points out that it hits start-ups hard: in fact, 35 per cent of startups that have raised $US50 million to $US100 million have been hit.
How does it stop? One obvious way is to make the cost of asserting patents higher, so chancers don’t give it a try — but that won’t stop some of the more high-profile patent cases, like Apple v. Samsung. Without serious patent reform, it’s hard to see how things can change any time soon. [Reuters]