A Virginia firm is accusing Durham LED maker Cree of infringing on four patents, and is asking for “a reasonable royalty” to be awarded in court. But this time it’s not a competitor filing suit in federal court, it’s Bluestone Innovations LLC, a patent licensing and enforcement company often categorized as a “patent troll.”
In the five years since it began its work — a result of the America Invents Act of 2011 — the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has saved companies more than $2 billion in legal fees alone, according to Joshua Landau, patent counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, offering an expeditious and relatively cheap avenue to challenge patents of doubtful validity.
The benefits of stopping bad patents from snaking their way through the economy have been even greater.
The U.S. economy is driven by innovation, but unwelcome “patent trolls” are gunking up the system. Patent reform bills sit idle in Congress as the “trolls” set up companies for the sole purpose, critics say, of shaking down inventors while never creating anything. “We just have to write ’em a check so they’ll go away,” says one disgusted app maker. Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.
By William Neilson Jr
As Seen In BostInno
“Patent troll” is a not-very-nice way to say “non-practicing entity”–a company that doesn’t own much except patents, and doesn’t do much except sue others for allegedly infringing them. But in the tech industry even lawyers use it. A husband-and-wife investor and tech lawyer are backing a proposal to put an end to it in Massachusetts. In an open letter, Founder Collective managing director Eric Paley called on Boston’s investors and entrepreneurs to support state Senate Bill 178, an act to curb what these patent trolls can do. So far, Paley’s change.org petition has just 93 supporters, but his open letter lists founders and executives from a few dozen of the most well-known technology companies in Massachusetts.