Recently I watched a movie called The Patent Scam. It is a documentary about patent trolls. It's a subject which I was already privy to, but haven’t seen a documentary on before. However if you are not privy to patent trolls, I will explain very briefly what they are.
First off here are links to 2 definitions...
The exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor tomanufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain number of years.
Essentially, a patent troll is an attorney or law firm which purchases patent portfolios from failed or bankrupt businesses. They then establish shell companies and sue small companies for violating those patents.
It's a very annoying, frustrating, and scary thing. It's something that has the potential to happen to anyone who works with the internet and technology. Patent Trolls like the tech industry. It's essentially a big grey area. The idea of linking one element (a file, page, etc) to another is patented (People have actually been sued for using links). Which there by makes Google, Squarespace, and I all guilty of patent infringement because google linked to this blog post, the Squarespace platform allowed me to link this post to my blog page, and I have added links to this page citing sources. Thus any app developer, blogger, ecommerce shop owner, hardware maker, can be sued for infringing on patents.
Let me also make it be known that these patents which those law firms own aren't actually used for anything. Their shell companies don't manufacture or develop anything. They have simply had the ownership rights transferred to them and just let them exist.
What makes the whole situation worse is that it is known with in the US Government to be a problem for business. To sum up what they want to do about it is... absolutely nothing. A bill was introduced in Congress to change things, but Senator Harry Reid literally said "over my dead body".
The issue of patent trolls is one that doesn't get mentioned very much it seems like. Victims of patent trolling are bound by NDA's (Non Disclosure Agreements) which is the legal equivalent to a muzzle. Victims cannot discuss details. As a result, the problem gets little attention which leads to no solution.
This documentary is a very interesting one. I recommend everyone watch it for the sake of being an informed consumer and citizen. You will learn a lot, about the problems patent trolls cause and about the legal system. I also recommend that if you do watch it, please click the button below to reach out to your representative and urge them to take a stand against patent trolls.
Director: Jon Farhat Producer: Austin Meyer