Kill the patent trolls says CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association

by: Gary SimsApril 3, 2014

CEAGary 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.

Rockstar doesn't actually make anything, it exists solely to sue for patent infringements.

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.

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?

  • Luka Mlinar

    Indeed, this needs to end now.

    • Common Sense

      If I invent a time machine and disclose it in a patent application, why should the entire world get to take my patent for free just because I don’t also own a time machine factory?

      • Evan Wickes

        u sir, will b future sued by Mr. Einstein & Mr. Hawking for using their theories & principles, of which ur machine is based upon.

  • Daz

    Killing patent troll won’t solve the problem, new trolls will reborn again and again.
    Kill the source of problem, that goddamn BROKEN PATENT SYSTEM!

    • Common Sense

      “YAY” – said people who don’t invent anything and Asian knock-off factories everywhere.

      • Common Sense

        Oh, wait — the consumer electronics industry is dominated by Asian Companies and companies that make all their stuff in Chinese factories. . .

        Ah, makes total sense now!!!! :/

  • MasterMuffin


  • Timothy Anderson

    Patent trolling should be made illegal. Clearly, companies like Rockstar, whose sole purpose is to make money by suing, is anti-competitive and just plain wrong. Companies that back these companies, such as Apple, should be fined an appropriate amount for the damage they have caused the consumer by thwarting fee competition.

    • Pat Law

      This is foolish. Nortel spent tens of billions of dollars on R&D. Of course their patents are valuable.

      I think you don’t understand what “anti-competitive” and “free competition” mean.

  • American Invention

    The $29 Billion figure has been discredited.

    The “have your cake and eat it” argument is ridiculous. Did the licensees pay value for the licenses to the Rockstar patents? No. So they should not get a license that they have not paid for.

  • Sim Piin Hor

    Ban patents trolls so company like HTC have more money to build better devices for us.

  • Shark Bait

    They also have the tiniest of signs ( or very large trees)