Patent Trolls

In the news today, Ebay is being sued by a heretofore unknown company called MercExchange. ME says Ebay is infringing on ME’s “Buy It Now” patent. Buy It Now is one of the features Ebay has to allow people to purchase objects without going through the auction process.

MercExchange is a business whose entire business model consists of applying for or buying patents and then suing successful companies for “infringing” their patent.What is a “patent troll”? “Patent troll is a pejorative and controversial phrase coined by former Intel assistant general counsel Peter Detkin in 2001 to describe entities that broadly assert specious patents across an industry for the purpose of generating nuisance value settlements. Instead of actively developing a technology, a “patent troll” would acquire or register a patent and pursue a strategy of looking for potential infringers and proposing license agreements to companies. Where the “patent troll” is unable to achieve a licensing agreement, it threatens, or enters, patent infringement litigation. To avoid litigation, companies often choose to settle by purchasing a license. Today, “patent troll” is used to describe a number of businesses using similar patent strategies.”(From wikipedia)

There are a number of companies whose stated goals and business models are to sue successful, deep-pocketed companies for enough money to either keep the troll from ever having to work agan or to cripple the defending company.
Some “patent trolls” are listed on the NYSE, and, as such, must please investors and analysts every quarter. Which means lawsuits and “infringement” settlements.

This is why America needs patent reform.