The broadest definition of a patent troll is a patent holding company that does not make products but asserts its patents against companies that make products. In legalese, a non practicing entity that sues a practicing entity.
History of the term
The term patent troll was used as early as 1993 and popularized by Peter Detkin, former general counsel of Intel. The term was used to describe a company whose sole purpose was to hold patents and assert them against companies that make products. Over the years, people have tried to move away from the negative connotation of the phrase patent troll and came up with other phrasing for patent trolls such as non practicing entities and patent assertion entities. The problem with these other terms is that they include “good” non practicing entities.
For example, a solo inventors obtains a patent but the business model fails for one reason or another. In an attempt to recoup costs, the solo inventors asserts the patent against a successful competitor and derives substantial revenues. Is this solo inventor a patent troll? How about a University that asserts its patents.
Hybrid patent trolls
Patent assertion entities
Change the rules, don’t name call
I invite you to contact me with your patent questions at (949) 433-0900 or [email protected]. Please feel free to forward this article to your friends. As an Orange County Patent Attorney, I serve Orange County, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and surrounding cities.