Patent trolls. We all love to hate these despicable companies that often don’t produce a single product, but use their vague patents to sue companies with deep pockets. When companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung aren’t in court suing each other into submission, patent trolls are nipping at their heels by taking away precious resources (namely legal manpower) and slowly siphoning their bank accounts.
It seems as though everyone hates patent trolls, well everyone except for juries in the Eastern District of Texas (over a 1/4 of patent troll cases roll though this district) and trial lawyers. But thankfully, Google is making a move — albeit a small one — to help squash the patent troll problem. The company is opening up the Patent Purchase Promotion, which is essentially a marketplace where patent holders can name their price for their patents. If Google finds the patents beneficial and the asking price is fair, it will agree to purchase them.
Google attempts to be diplomatic when explaining the reason for opening up the marketplace, stating that it is “an experiment to remove friction from the patent market.” In other words, it simply want to beat patent trolls to the punch, who often feed off this low-hanging fruit. And any move by Google that is meant to essentially keep the teeth of patent trolls down their throats is something that we can jubilantly support.
Unfortunately, the Patent Purchase Promotion will only be open during an extremely small window: May 8 through May 22. But according to Google, there’s a reason for this brief window of opportunity:
By simplifying the process and having a concentrated submission window, we can focus our efforts into quickly evaluating patent assets and getting responses back to potential sellers quickly. Hopefully this will translate into better experiences for sellers, and remove the complications of working with entities such as patent trolls.
It’s a small step, but if Google can keep desirable patents from trolls with the marketplace, it stands to save a millions fighting in court or settling out of court (roughly 90 percent of cases brought forth by patent trolls are settled out of court to avoid costly litigation). And until Congress can make up their minds when it comes to passing legislation to neuter these patent trolls, the problem will only continue to get worse in the coming years.
With that said, we highly encourage you to take a look at this segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver for a humorous and informative take on patent trolls. It’s easily digestible for people that have no clue what a patent trolls is, and is still hilariously funny for those that are intimately aware of the harm they cause in the tech sector: