Gary Shapiro, the CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, is calling on the US Senate to follow moves by Congress and the White House against patent trolls. According to Shapiro the actions of patent trolls have now reached epidemic proportions. It is reckoned that 90 percent of all patent troll activity is aimed against small businesses and startups. In other words against those who don’t have the money to fight back. This makes a patent troll no better than a common bully.
“One in three startups has been blindsided by patent litigation, and 40 percent of small technology companies say abusive patent suits have had a serious, negative impact on their businesses,” said Shapiro.
The claims by these bullies would be funny if this wasn’t so serious. One troll attacked small companies for scanning documents while another went after coffee shops that were using Wi-Fi routers. Patent trolls are costing the U.S. economy at least $80 billion per year while the trolls rack in upwards of $29 billion per year.
Android OEMs are no stranger to patent trolls either. Rockstar, a shell company created by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, and others, purchased the patent portfolio of the now-defunct Canadian carrier Nortel. It is using the portfolio against Android OEMs. Rockstar doesn’t actually make anything, it exists solely to sue for patent infringements. So far Rockstar has gone after Android device makers like ASUS, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE.
Rockstar doesn't actually make anything, it exists solely to sue for patent infringements.
Because Rockstar is an independent entity, it can even sue companies that its owners have patent agreements with. So although Apple and HTC signed a 10-year patent licensing deal, that didn’t stop Rockstar from filing against HTC itself. It looks like Apple wants its cake and eat it.
One strange name on the list of Rockstar’s owners is Sony. The electronic giant is a successful Android OEM and yet its money is being used to sue Google. Bizarrely, Rockstar is potentially able to actually sue Sony for patent infringements. In the world of the patent troll anything is possible!
Shapiro is calling for the Senate to follow the president and Congress and enact solutions that drive a stake into the heart of patent trolls, instead of tiptoeing around the edges.
Do you agree with Shapiro, do you want to see an end to the patent troll plague once and for all?