By this point, most people know what a "patent troll" is. These are the individuals and businesses that patent a broad idea or concept and then try to sue as many companies as possible for infringement. They usually obtain settlements by acting on the knowledge that most companies don't want to go to court or cannot afford to do so.
If you work in Silicon Valley, chances are good that your company has already had trouble with a troll. To be sure, it is a smart idea to patent one's intellectual property and to enforce those patents - if the patents and infringements are legitimate. But this is not what trolls do. And courts in California and around the country are getting fed up with these litigious nuisances.
According to ArsTechnica.com, the most prolific patent troll of 2014 was a shell company called eDekka. It was apparently created by a Texas attorney who also represents the second and third most prolific patent trolls of last year. The company filed more than 100 patent infringement suits in 2014, about 87 of which were filed in a single week.
Recently, eDekka had 168 lawsuits dismissed by a Texas judge, who found that the patent they were based on is invalid. He noted that the patent seemingly claims ownership of "the abstract idea of storing and labeling information." The claims made by eDekka did not meet the standard for patenting, the judge said.
Interestingly, the judge in this case hears more patent claims than any other judge in the United States, and has been known to make things harder for patent defendants. Yet in this case, he dismissed about 10 percent of his own docket with this one ruling. He even hinted that defendants may want to seek attorneys' fees from eDekka.
Most patent holders are not trolls; they are only trying to protect their intellectual property. The best way to ensure that your patent meets basic requirements and is enforceable is to work with an experienced business law attorney.