Story

Kate Endress Doerksen

CEO & Co-founder of DITTO, a startup in California

My company, DITTO, solves a simple but vexing question when it comes to buying glasses online: do they fit? In 2012, we launched our service that enables customers to get a 180-degree view of how a pair of frames looks without leaving their home.

However, when we were sued by a patent troll in 2013, we faced a dilemma that is becoming increasingly common: hire lawyers and fight the case for an extraordinarily high cost or settle at a much lower but still burdensome cost—especially for a startup. Innovators like us are faced with a lose-lose decision; even if the troll lost, with legal costs we’d still be on the hook for millions of dollars.

Since we’ve been sued, we have had to cut our marketing down to zero, we have laid off several employees, and I have gone without a salary myself to keep the company from going out of business. The current patent system is a nightmare for entrepreneurs, but for patent trolls there are no ramifications or risk. We must pass comprehensive patent reform if we want to protect entrepreneurs who are essential to creating new jobs and industries. You can hear more about my story here.


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