patent troll (PAT.unt trohl) n. A company that purchases a patent, often from a bankrupt firm, and then sues another company by claiming that one of its products infringes on the purchased patent.. —adj.
In a follow-up to our previous story about lawyer Raymond Niro, from the plaintiffs’ IP firm Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro, and his offer of $5,000 “to anyone that can provide information that leads me to the identity of Troll Tracker,” Niro has responded with what he felt were some misconceptions in the story.
Niro, described as the Original Patent Troll, is interested in learning the identity of the anonymous author of the blog Patent Troll Tracker, a blog written for the stated purpose “to bring to light the extreme problems our US patent system is having with patent trolls: corporations that make no products, but do nothing but acquire patents to sue and make revenue.”
Troll Tracker insists that he (or she) is “Just a lawyer, interested in patent cases, but not interested in publicity.”
A patent troll is the term coined in 2001 by Intel Corporation assistant general counsel Peter Detkin to characterize Niro and his client TechSearch LLC when Intel was defending a patent suit against them. Ironically, Detkin is now considered by some to have become a troll himself.
Please let me correct a couple of misconceptions in your blog.
1. I do not want to find out the name of the Troll Tracker in order to sue for patent infringement; rather, I want to know his name to expose him, so that he can’t hide behind anonymity and may ultimately be held accountable for what he says.
2. Acacia does not own the patent in question. It is owned by Global Patent Holdings who has no connection to Acacia.
3. Anyone that operates a website runs the risk of infringing Global’s patent if (as we believe) that patent covers the manner in which JPEG images are displayed on a website. Troll Tracker is no exception.
4. As for silencing critics, I doubt that is possible. But anyone should be held responsible for what they say and have the courage to express their views by putting their names on whatever it is they publish.
In addition, Niro mentioned that he has raised the reward to $10,000 for information leading to the identity of the Troll Tracker. “It seems to me if you really have anything truthful to say, you are not afraid of identifying yourself,” Niro stated.
While Niro frames this as a reward, not a bounty, the meat of the issue is that patent infringement is a high-stakes game. Global Patent Holdings has now filed three patent lawsuits against 16 companies for infringment of claim 17 of the ’341 patent by downloading responsive data, including audio/visual and graphical presentations, such as JPEG images and/or other compressed data, on their web sites.
According to IP Law 360, Global Patent Holdings has proposed, for companies that sell products through their websites, a fully paid-up royalty of up to $250,000 for companies with annual revenue of between 0 and $50 million (are they asking for 0.5% of the company’s present annual revenue?). For companies of (annual?) revenue more than $51.2 billion, the proposed royalty is $15 million (closer to 0.03%).
For companies that do not sell products through their websites but have compressed images on those sites, Global Patent Holdings is seeking half the amount – $125,000 and $7.5 million.
Many people consider a patent troll to be anyone that doesn’t produce a product or service themselves but instead makes money from licensing the rights to companies already making products. Under that definition, I suppose Thomas Edison would be a troll.