Report: Patent Trolls Dominate Technology Patent Lawsuits
An eye-popping 90 percent of all U.S. technology patent lawsuits are initiated by so-called patent trolls, or companies that produce no products, typically have no employees and make money solely from issuing licenses for technology on held patents and litigation, according to a patent consulting firm.
As reported by Ars Technica on statistics provided by Unified Patents, a San Jose, CA-based provider of consulting services to help businesses deter lawsuits filed by what it refers to as “non-practicing entities,” or NPEs, suggests that patent litigation, driven by patent troll lawsuits, could reach an all-time high in 2015.
Overall, some 3,050 patent lawsuits were filed in the U.S. in the first half of 2015, with 2,075, or 68 percent, filed by patent trolls, according to Unified Patents. About 90 percent of those were filed in the high tech industry, the company said, up from 85 percent in 1H 2014 and 82.5 percent in 2H 2014.
Apple (AAPL), which was the target of 25 patent lawsuits in the first half of this year, remains the focus of many patent trolls, Unified Patents said. A recent example is the $533 million award granted Smartflash, a Tyler, Texas entity, in a patent infringement case against Apple in which a jury ruled the iPhone maker had violated three of its patents with its iTunes software. A federal judge recently threw out the award and ordered a new trial on the damages.
Other IT heavyweights frequently on the receiving end of patent lawsuits include Amazon (AMZN) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).
The top three patent trolls–—eDekka LLC, Data Carriers LLC, and Wetro Lan LLC—are all represented by the same law firm, Dallas, TX-based Austin Hansley, and all three file lawsuits nearly exclusively in the Eastern District of Texas, the same region where Smartflash sued Apple.
United Patents estimates about 6,100 patent lawsuits will be filed for the full year, an all-time high.