Browse Definitions :
Definition

patent troll

A patent troll is an individual or an organization that purchases and holds patents for unscrupulous purposes such as stifling competition or launching patent infringement suits. 

In legal terms, a patent troll is a type of non-practicing entity: someone who holds a patent but is not involved in the design or manufacture of any product or process associated with that patent. Non-practicing entities include legitimate institutions such as startups, technology transfer agencies, universities and research organizations. To differentiate patent trolls from legitimate non-practicing entities, they are sometimes referred to as patent-assertion companies: organizations that exist solely to obtain patents and profit from them through patent infringement claims. 

Patent trolls usually obtain patents from a number of sources and collect them in volume. Most patents come from the auctions of bankrupt companies, from companies who don't intend to act on a technology and from individuals without the funds to develop their inventions. The patent system vulnerable to abuse because patents frequently describe a general concept rather than a product or process and may not define what it protects in adequately precise terms. In 2011, for example, a patent assertion entity called Innovatio threatened to sue 8,000 hotels, stores and coffee shops in the United States, claiming that the use of Wi-Fi infringed upon 17 of its patents. The company claimed that although household Wi-Fi also constituted an infringement, they would not sue individual homes. Many of the businesses paid settlement fees ranging from $2,300 to $5,000. Similar alleged patent infringement cases have targeted the aggregation of news stories into podcasts, sending photocopies to email, and using shopping carts on a website. 

In the United States a bill introduced into the House, the SHIELD Act (H.R. 845) is designed to make patent infringement suits less attractive. If the bill is signed into law, if a patent troll loses such a suit, they will be required to pay the defendant's costs. Because court costs can run into the millions, it is hoped that the risk of loss will be sufficient to dissuade patent trolls from launching frivolous suits. 

This was last updated in September 2013

Continue Reading About patent troll

SearchCompliance

  • information governance

    Information governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and ...

  • enterprise document management (EDM)

    Enterprise document management (EDM) is a strategy for overseeing an organization's paper and electronic documents so they can be...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • honeypot (computing)

    A honeypot is a network-attached system set up as a decoy to lure cyber attackers and detect, deflect and study hacking attempts ...

  • spam trap

    A spam trap is an email address that is used to identify and monitor spam email.

  • cracker

    A cracker is someone who breaks into someone else's computer system, often on a network; bypasses passwords or licenses in ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • call tree

    A call tree is a layered hierarchical communication model that is used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate ...

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide ...

SearchStorage

  • storage virtualization

    Storage virtualization is the pooling of physical storage from multiple storage devices into what appears to be a single storage ...

  • erasure coding

    Erasure coding (EC) is a method of data protection in which data is broken into fragments, expanded and encoded with redundant ...

  • continuous data protection

    Continuous data protection (CDP), also known as continuous backup, is a backup and recovery storage system in which all the data ...

Close