If there is something which everyone in the tech industry hates right now, it’s patent trolls.
Patent Troll: A person or company who buys and enforces patents against one or more alleged infringers in a manner considered by the target or observers as unduly aggressive or opportunistic, often with no intention to further develop, manufacture or market the patented invention.
Patents were originally devised to allow companies to protect their intellectual property. The current state of patent law in the U.S. and most other countries is pathetic, and instead of fostering and protecting innovation, hinders and prevents it.
However, in the case of companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google etc., you can at least grant them the benefit of doubt, in that they are trying to protect their innovations. Apple’s tablet design patents may be unfair, but at least Apple is using them to defend iPad sales. Patent trolls, on the other hand, have no intention of developing or selling anything, they just want to make money off acquired patents.
Most big tech companies try to avoid being linked with patent trolls. However, some patent trolls, like Intellectual Ventures, have investors like Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Sony, Nokia, Google and others, and still surprisingly sue them.
Apparently, Apple has made a deal with a patent troll – Digitude Innovations, which recently sued most of its competitors like RIM, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Amazon, and Nokia for patent infringement.
It transferred two key patents to Digitude indirectly, after routing them through a shell company.
It’s not clear why Apple made this move. It could be to fight its competitors through Digitude, but Apple has been doing that itself – it has been involved in patent lawsuits against multiple companies like Samsung, HTC, Motorola etc.
Apple could also have been coerced into giving some of its patents to Digitude as some form of “protection money”, to avoid litigation by Digitude.
In any case, it has only aggravated the patent troll problem which needs to be fixed soon, so that companies can go back and focus on innovation, instead of trying to defend themselves against frivolous patent lawsuits by trolls looking to make a quick buck.
Check out the complete details at Techcrunch.