In recent years, American companies have faced a growing threat from patent assertion entities derisively called “patent trolls.” These often shadowy firms make money by threatening patent lawsuits rather than creating useful products. A recent study suggests that the roots of the patent trolling problem may lie with the US Patent and Trademark office—specifically with patent examiners who fail to thoroughly vet patent applications before approving them.
Playsaurus, a small Los Angeles-based game studio that makes Clicker Heroes and the upcoming Clicker Heroes 2, has recently been threatened with a lawsuit if it doesn’t pay $35,000 for a patent licensing fee to cover a patent for “electronic tokens.”
In a Thursday blog post, the CEO of Playsaurus wrote that the company that sent him the letter, GTX Corporation, is a “patent troll.” CEO Thomas Wolfley called GTX’s demands to avoid “costly litigation” over Playsaurus’ use of electronic “Rubies” in its games “meritless.”
By Senator Richard Ross
As Seen in The Wayland Patch
The now mainstream act of “patent trolling” is a growing threat to small businesses not only in Massachusetts, but across the United States. These acts are carried out by non-practicing entities, or NPEs, and have gone from a low-profile to conventional issue in less than ten years. Too often, NPEs fraudulently threaten patent infringement litigation, or worse, actually file a patent infringement lawsuit. This is a true threat to the business community and to honest entrepreneurial efforts.
By Ruth Simon and Loretta Chao
As Seen in The Wall Street Journal
Like almost every online retailer, Spice Jungle LLC emails tracking numbers to customers when they place orders. That’s why the small firm was dumbfounded when it received a demand to pay $25,000 for the right to do so… Spice Jungle is among more than 100 mostly small companies sued in 2016 by Shipping & Transit, whose litigiousness makes it the largest filer of patent lawsuits in the U.S. this year, according to legal analytics firm Lex Machina. The number of businesses affected by Shipping & Transit’s actions is likely even larger, because this count doesn’t include those that paid quickly to avoid a lawsuit.