Today, we’re excited to partner with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a
coalition of organizations and law schools to launch Trolling Effects, a resource to empower entrepreneurs targeted by patent trolls.
Patent troll lawsuits represented 62 percent of all patent litigation in 2012, and the costs associated with these suits amount to billion of dollars, stalling business growth, delaying products, and robbing startups of precious resources.
The patent troll business model works best when infringement claims never reach a courtroom. By blasting demands to companies large and small, the troll hopes to elicit settlements that won’t see the light of day. This information asymmetry leaves victims without a clear sense of the validity of the patent asserted, or how many others have been targeted by a similar demand.
Trolling Effects turns the tables by making these demand letters public. Increasing transparency may be an effective means of curbing abusive patent suits, so much so that President Obama recommended that the patent office take similar steps last month. The project will allow demand letter recipients to post the documents online, find letters received by others, and find out who is really behind the threats.
Here’s where you come in: Trolling Effects needs submissions to work and the advocacy team at EFF has done a great job making the process simple. Go to the “submit” page, enter the date the letter was sent and the how it was received (post, email, etc.), find and enter the numbers of the asserted patents (i.e., D668286 or 7986426), enter the text of the letter or upload the PDF document, then enter your address and the senders’ address.
Worried about your information being published? Trolling Effects takes care of that by allowing you to toggle the elements of the letter you want redacted (although you can redact the information yourself to be sure). This will prevent trolls from using the database to target those already being subjected to demands. This site also includes a host of information on patents, patent assertion entities (Washington-speak for “trolls”), and what to do if you receive a demand letter.
Information is a critical resource in the battle against patent trolls. By participating in this project, startups can better equip themselves and the entire startup ecosystem against opportunistic litigators angling for settlements. Working together, we will strike a blow to patent troll tactics while focusing lawmakers’ attention on the scourge of patent suits.
Image courtesy of kimsuyeong.