by Alex Lee, Penn Law ’17
By now, we’ve all heard the media recount the story of the patent troll. Patent trolls, or non-practice entities (NPE’s), are typically companies that don’t make products, but instead operate by licensing and enforcing patent rights against accused infringers. Since an NPE’s success hinges on its ability to draw profits from litigation and licensing fees, its incentives for filing claims and threatening infringement suits often do not mirror those of companies who are trying to protect their products on the market. Figures from United Patents, an organization whose goal is to reduce NPE litigation, report that 61% of all patent cases in 2014 involved NPE’s. Because litigating these suits costs billions of dollars on the economy each year, many organizations across industries and government see these suits as frivolous and burdensome on innovation. As a result, they are clamoring for changes to the system.