Patent holders have every right to assert their intellectual property rights through whatever legal means are at their disposal. The practice of accumulating patents for the sole purpose of extracting value from them, however, has gained an unfavorable reputation among innovators in a number of industries. This practice is often labeled with the disparaging term “patent trolling.”
How does patent trolling work?
Patent holders can derive income from their intellectual property by demanding licensing payments from parties they claim are using protected innovations. The patent holder may use the threat of litigation as a means of compelling the other party to pay. In some cases, recipients of such demands calculate that the cost of paying licensing fees is favorable compared to the threat of litigation.
A flurry of lawsuits
In a recent event making waves in the cybersecurity industry, the firm Webroot and its parent company OpenText launched a series of lawsuits against competitors it claims were profiting off of patented anti-malware applications it created.
The defendants in these claims have largely denounced these legal actions as patent trolling. A vice president with one of the companies targeted by the lawsuits offered this pointed remark: “We invite Webroot and OpenText to join the ranks of serious cybersecurity companies that are trying to solve problems rather than create them.”
The plaintiff maintains that their patented cybersecurity applications are foundational innovations their competitors are unfairly infringing upon.
Protect your rights proactively
The validity of a patent infringement claim depends upon the nature of the patented technology and its use by the alleged infringer, not the intention of the patent holder in bringing the claim. The outcome of the above-mentioned claims will depend upon a close examination of the technologies in question and applicable case law.
Whether you hold a patent and have concerns that another party has infringed upon your intellectual property or have been accused of patent infringement, the legal steps you take at the very outset will play a large role in the eventual outcome.