Recently, the IP Troll Tracker blog decided to try to officially define “patent troll” to a level that might satisfy a patent holder who insists that there is no such thing as a patent troll. For many years, we here at Techdirt avoided using the phrase “patent troll” because it did seem rather undefined, but it became so commonplace that we eventually gave in and used the phrase regularly. The term has showed up in all sorts of places, including courtrooms and discussions on legislation. In some circles, policy makers often use the term “non-practicing entities” (or NPEs) instead of “patent trolls” but that upsets some who feel that there are “NPEs” (like universities) that do research that they wish to license off, but which will never be “practicing entities.” Some have also called them “Patent Assertion Entities” (PAEs) to describe companies who do nothing more than assert patents. At least that leaves out universities — but then that also leaves out companies who do other things but who also, do some patent trolling (including, frankly, some universities, since we’re discussing them).
Stephanie Kennedy, who runs the IP Troll Tracker blog, came up with the following definition:
Patent Troll, n –
1/ A company or individual who, using patents that either never should have been issued or are broadly constructed (intentionally for the purpose of misuse, or as a result of poor USPTO patent examination practices), sends letters to various and sundry companies and/or individuals that simultaneously request license fees and threaten legal action if the recipient fails to respond correctly by paying up and who will, in the face of inaction by a demand letter recipient, actually file suit in Federal District Court, the District of East Texas being the most popular venue.
2/ A company set up to act as a cover for large corporations who try to breathe new life into older patents which they would ordinarily let expire but, as a result of greed and/or pressure from Wall Street, have decided are ripe for assertion or litigation.
3/ Intellectual Ventures