Further to my last post about the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Stupid Patent of the Month, here’s an analysis of the ongoing pain being caused by so-called patent trolls, more politely called non-practicing entities (NPEs.) That’s a term to describe entities that hold patents but don’t use them for anything, except sometimes to sue people who are producing things.
Not all NPEs are patent trolls, though. That would be too simple. Some of them are universities that do research but don’t directly try to employ their discoveries. So, they hold patents but don’t use them, the very definition of NPE. All this makes it difficult to fashion solutions to the patent troll problem. Nearly everyone agrees that the trolls are a problem. Other than from the trolls and their lawyers, you don’t see much justification for their parasitical behavior. But lawmakers have to be careful that they don’t damage innocent bystanders along with the trolls.
From the Christian Science Monitor article:
Tech companies faced a growing wave of patent suits in 2015 from so-called non-practicing entities, which hold patents but do not create products based on them.
Universities … (say) … the proposals go too far by potentially categorizing them as patent trolls.
… contrary to the perception of NPEs as mostly patent trolls, some inventors have also repeatedly filed claims, particularly for software and hardware.
Once again we have to find that fine line between rewarding innovation and creativity, and letting it turn into a farce that punishes those who do and rewards those who sue.