There are companies that exist for the sole purpose of going after others for patent infringement (whether real or alleged) using hardball tactics. Such companies may not even be the inventor behind the patent; rather, they may simply buy patents from others and enforce them aggressively. In the world of Intellectual Property, such companies are known as Patent Trolls.
Why does a company engage in Patent Trolling?
The reason that a company becomes a patent troll is simple: money. Patent litigation is complex and expensive. Patent trolls count on the fact that most people and companies will quickly settle out of court or give in to the patent troll’s demands because they don’t fully understand their rights and fear getting entangled in a costly court battle.
The patents that these troll companies are trying to protect may not even warrant that much protection and the perceived infringement may be either exaggerated or nonexistent. Even so, the mere allegation of patent infringement can be enough to scare unsuspecting people and business owners into paying whatever the troll demands to settle the issue.
Can I just ignore the demands of a Patent Troll?
Usually a patent troll will start by sending cease and desist notice. They may request that you purchase license and make a retroactive license payment or that you make a lump sum payment. If the cease and desist notice is ignored or a settlement is not reached a patent troll may file a lawsuit. These lawsuits may be frivolous, as in having no merit, and may even be filed with the sole intention of intimidating the defendant or gain leverage in a settlement negotiation. Unfortunately, even if you believe it is frivolous, you cannot ignore a lawsuit once commenced by one of these trolls.
On the flipside, some of these lawsuits may have merit. They may be of limited merit, or the company may simply be asking for damages far beyond what the actual patent is worth. They may also exaggerate the applicability of a particular patent. That’s why it’s important to talk to an attorney about your situation just in case there is any merit to the claim that the troll is bringing and so that you have the best defense and understanding of how to respond.
How can a patent attorney help me?
An experienced patent attorney can advise you on the best course of action to take. You may not have to settle or even go to trial. If it turns out the claim is without merit, you can ignore the troll’s demands with full assurance and peace of mind that you did nothing wrong. Keep in mind that a lawyer is probably representing the patent troll, and you want to fight this suit standing on equal ground. If you need assistance in gathering facts about your case and moving forward, we invite you to contact our Intellectual property law firm at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.
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