Bonum Certa Men Certa

Trolls Roundup: Buying up the Competition Using Patents and the Post-TC Heartland Figures

Patent tax in a new gown/clothing

Equity (finance)
Reference: Equity (finance)



Summary: The latest trends in patent trolling, an activity which relocates and evolves rather than simply vanish

THE USPTO used to be the most patent trolls-friendly office and the US in general the most patent trolls-infested country. The term was obviously coined there.



"Trolls are shrinking or dismantling themselves."Right now it's China which is rapidly becoming the cesspool of patent trolls (the US gradually stops being that), so the patent microcosm is envious of China. It can't stop mentioning "China!" all the time (Watchtroll did that again this week) because it's infested with trolls and lawsuits. But who really benefits from that other than the patent microcosm?

The matter of fact is, under Michelle Lee the system has been cleaning up its act and the Supreme Court contributed to this. Trolls are shrinking or dismantling themselves.

"The matter of fact is, under Michelle Lee the system has been cleaning up its act and the Supreme Court contributed to this."This optimism should not signal apathy, however, as trolls are evolving in a way.

Consider for example what Dominion Harbor [1, 2] is doing and mind yesterday's news about this pool (the press is framing it as "for startups", but the opposite is true).

To quote Bloomberg:

A handful of large patent holders, including telecom giant AT&T Inc., have agreed to pool patents for sale to startups in exchange for equity when the up-and-coming companies raise venture capital funds.

Patent advisory and transaction firm Aqua Licensing said Aug. 2 in a statement that it will launch a program to match startups looking to purchase intellectual property to defend against potential litigation with patent holders interested in selling patents that aren’t essential to their core businesses.


AT&T, Lenovo and Rambus were loathsome enough even before they entered this scheme. Here is how IAM put it:

The new platform has echoes of similar initiatives from the likes of Dominion Harbor and InterTrust who have both looked to create value from patents by offering start-ups defensive cover and providing those businesses advice on patent strategy in exchange for equity. What marks this new initiative out however is the backing of some seriously heavyweight operating businesses that are looking to use IP which might otherwise remain unused and be a drag on their balance sheets.


So this is done "in exchange for equity." We added the image at the top for the uninitiated or those unfamiliar with accounting terminopoly. How is that beneficial at all? They are using patents for financial leverage over small companies. We expect to hear more about this in the coming days/weeks, but it's a form of predation. The above blog post compares it to InterTrust, which is a horrible patent bully.

"They're simply evolving and attempting to make money out of patents without litigating."What we have here is a bunch of already-controversial companies (for surveillance, patent bullying and hostility towards GNU/Linux) trying to put a happy face on their behaviour. They're simply evolving and attempting to make money out of patents without litigating. It's a form of 'protection' money. Microsoft too changed its methods.

Incidentally, TC Heartland has had a negative impact on classic trolls, as expected.

"Uniloc tops plaintiff ranking," Managing IP says this week, but much of the attention has moved to whether cases can move out of Texas:

In the first half of 2017, TC Heartland became the talk of the town. Many of the most unsettled questions of patent law moving into the second half stem from the Supreme Court’s May 2017 decision.


Writing behind paywall, IAM "show[s] the share of new patent litigation cases filed in selected federal districts before and after the US Supreme Court decision in TC Heartland LLC v Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC. The ruling held that, as applied to domestic corporations, ‘residence’ in the patent venue statute Section 1400(b) refers only to the state of incorporation."

"We expect the patent aggressors to generally come up with new ways to extract money out of small businesses, with or without lawsuits."There was another article about this, titled "Does TC Heartland signal the end of East Texas’ dominance?"

We expect the patent aggressors to generally come up with new ways to extract money out of small businesses, with or without lawsuits. The above initiative is a reminder of this threat (akin to MPEG-LA, which also attempts to reinvent itself now that key MPEG patents are expiring/expired).

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