Today Congress heard overwhelming evidence about how patent trolls—companies that assert patents as a business model instead of creating products—are abusing the system to stifle innovation. At a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, witness after witness testified about patent trolls who use the threat of ruinous defense costs to pressure companies into paying settlements on vague and overbroad patents.
EFF is pleased to see the Indiegogo campaign page of Internet startup CentUp has returned after the page was briefly taken down in response to a complaint by a patent troll. We hope this takedown is not the start of a trend of patent trolls sabotaging startups by complaining to online intermediaries.
Patent trolls — companies that assert patents as a business model instead of creating products — have been in the news lately. This is hardly surprising, given that troll lawsuits now make up the majority of new patent cases. And the litigation is only the tip of the iceberg: patent trolls send out hundreds of demand letters for each suit filed in court.
Earlier this week, Ars Technica profiled a particularly atrocious group of patent trolls who are demanding payments from small businesses for committing the egregious, shameful act of... scanning documents to email? Yes, the latest in a string of absurd patent-related stories involves the everyday act of using a networked scanner.
Everyone, take a deep breath: it seems we’ve had a moment of sanity in the patent wars. Last week, a jury invalidated the dangerous Eolas patents, which their owner claimed covered, well, essentially the whole Internet. The patents were originally granted for an invention that helped doctors to view images of embryos over the early Web. A few years later, smelling quick cash, their owner insisted that they had a veto right on any mechanism used to embed an object in a web document. Really? The patents were obvious—now in 2012, and back in 1994, when the first one was filed.