Technology is a competitive business and creating a new product can be extremely lucrative. For those in Silicon Valley who have innovated, it is imperative to protect that which they have created. Competition is one thing, but another entity simply trying to profit by behaving as a “troll” is still another. Being accused of this behavior is also problematic. Recently, this issue has been worsening at the United States International Trade Commission (USTIC).
How patent trolls might exploit uncertainty
To protect intellectual property, a patent is crucial. This is addressed in Section 337 of the Trade Act to protect against infringement. Companies in Silicon Valley and throughout the United States rely on this section. Still, patent trolls can use this rule to their advantage in unseemly ways. For instance, some organizations purchase a patent with no intent to market the product; they simply wait for others to begin marketing something that may infringe on the patent, and then demand a settlement or threaten litigation. A court may award damages in such situations, but the USITC does not. Instead it will order exclusion of the item that is infringed and anything connected to it.
Patents can sometimes be unclear and patent trolls will use that uncertainty to secure profit for something they did not have a hand in creating. On the other hand, in some instances, an entity is accused of being a patent troll when it is not in fact doing anything illegal or untoward.
Problems with patents will often require experienced professional help
Patent disputes are not always limited to who came up with the idea first. Patent trolls might seek to profit by using the law as what amounts to a weapon to either litigate or threaten litigation. Those alleged to be patent trolls might have a legitimate product or result in mind when they acquired the patent. For this area of the law, it is important to be proactive and prepared for the possibility of patent litigation. Knowing how patent trolls work can help with avoiding them.