Trolls Now Bring More Patent Cases Than Anybody Else

By Jamie Condliffe on at

A new study proves what most of us expected: these days, more patent cases are brought about by patent trolls than any other party.

A report by Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University, shows that 61 percent of all patent lawsuits filed in the last year were brought by "patent-assertion entities". That might sound like legalese—because it is!—but in simple terms, that means people or companies who assert patents as a business model rather than building their own product or technology. In other words, trolls.

Perhaps most amazing is the rapid rise that patent trolling has seen. Last year 45 percent of patent cases were brought about by trolls, according to the research, and five years ago it was just 23 percent. Chien also points out that it hits start-ups hard: in fact, 35 percent of startups that have raised £31 million to £60 million have been hit.

How does it stop? One obvious way is to make the cost of asserting patents higher, so smaller companies won't fancy giving it a try—but that won't stop some of the more high-profile patent cases, like Apple v. Samsung. Without serious patent reform, it's hard to see how things can change any time soon. [Reuters]

Image by @boetter under Creative Commons license