Patent trolls are cleaning up in the US

13 Jul 2015

The booming tech industry has brought about a booming troll industry, with patent litigation starting to look like 21st century extortion. It’s getting worse, too.

According to a new report by Unified Patents, patent lawsuits are rising 20pc this year in the US, with non-practicing entities (NPEs) – which are companies that make their money from patent licensing – representing 68pc of all cases in US district courts.

In the high-tech industry, in particular, 90pc of all patent litigation was made up by NPEs, a rise in market share from the same time last year.

Patent trolls

As if they were simply opening up an alphabetised order of tech and pharmaceutical companies and choosing from the top, trolls seem to be targeting the As, with Apple, Actavis and Amazon the most litigated against.

Apple, like in most measurements of the tech industry, is leading the way by a distance, but Unified Patents notes that were cases against its affiliates combined then Samsung would be in second.

Apple a key target of patent trolls?

The rise in the market share that patent trolls enjoy is actually smaller than the rise in cases, meaning that as a whole the industry is in a bit of a bind.

Patent legislation cannot be too far away, and it’s imperative when considering the limitations it’s putting on tech companies progressing modern technologies.

According to ArsTechnica, this latest report is “sure to be highlighted by tech lobbyists and others pushing for patent reform, given that the House [of Representatives] is likely to take up a floor vote of the Innovation Act this month”.

This is something the wonderful John Oliver discussed only a few weeks ago:

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic