A group of US trade bodies have started a campaign against patent trolls and asked politicians to join them in taking action to stop them.
Amongst the group is the Internet Association, who are keen to prevent these so-called trolls from taking out generalised patents on widely available technology in order to demand money from companies.
To raise awareness, QR codes and online store-locators are being displayed in restaurants and shops, as well as radio and print adverts which will appear in 15 US states.
The Stop Bad Patents campaign claims that businesses can face demands of up to $100,000 in order to settle a patent dispute out of court.
“Patent trolls don’t make anything, they just get rich” say the campaigners and have asked voters to contact Congres representatives to ask them to “stop bad patents, stop the trolls”.
“Patent trolls use bad patents to bully companies of all sizes, in every economic sector, from coast to coast,” said Michael Beckerman, President of The Internet Association. “This is essentially legalised extortion, forcing hard-working businesses to go to court or write a cheque.”
Alan Schoenbaum, general counsel at the cloud computing firm Rackspace explained that these trolls are often “entrepreneurs or finance people” and don’t actually invent anything themselves. “Defending a lawsuit is extremely expensive… they play on that fear that the defendant is going to spend a lot of money to defend itself and it is simply cheaper to pay them off”, he said.
Defending patent trolls, Erich Spangenberg who owns the company IP Nav says, “Much like an architect can design a building but does not build it, a song-writer can compose a song but doesn’t have to sing it, an inventor can get granted a patent and ultimately is not forced to practise it”.
US President Barak Obama has already called upon Congress to tackle this problem, do you think something should be done about it?