PTO, Courts and Congress Must Solve the Patent Troll Problem

Katie Johnson, General Counsel for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® — As Seen in Morning Consult

Like many industries, real estate is increasingly driven by innovations in technology that enable professionals to deliver services more quickly and efficiently than ever before. From functionality on websites allowing consumers to zoom in on points of interest on a map, to sending those website users alerts via email, to even providing Wi-Fi access in the common areas of buildings, real estate professionals are constantly seeking to provide consumers with improved services and information in a way that is fast, convenient and comprehensive. Unfortunately, the activities described above – which are utilized by the majority of businesses around the country – have also made them the target of patent trolls.

Patent trolls use overly broad patents – for example, regarding the provision of Wi-Fi access – to threaten litigation and extort payments from real estate businesses across the country. Increasingly, these patent trolls are targeting small businesses, which are not likely to have sufficient resources to fight a long and costly legal battle and are more likely to take the trolls’ settlement offers.


« »