People that are familiar with the tech industry must have heard of the term patent trolls. Patent trolls are empty companies which file patents but never develop their products, but when other companies are developing similar technology or ideas, the patent troll will sue the companies that are trying to develop the technology for copyright infringement. In most cases, tech giants like Google are the biggest victims. It is certain that it is a loophole in the copyright laws and it should be fixed.
In May 22, the Supreme Court favored side with beverage flavoring company TC Heartland in its lawsuit with Kraft Heinz, ruling with an 8-0 that patent infringement cases only can be filed there the defendant company is incorporated. According to the National Law Journal, this case was filed in Delaware. Meanwhile Kraft was incorporated in Delaware, filed a lawsuit on TC Heartland, an Indiana based company. In another word, if a patent troll wanted to file a lawsuit against a company, they will need to “pick the fight” at their target’s company, instead of choosing any locations as they wish.
This small change may not seem obvious to stop the patent trolls. However, the federal court district in rural East Texas held about a quarter of all copyright infringement lawsuits in the US since 2011. This court also has the reputation of favoring the plaintiff. At the same time, there are more strange pattern about this court. Less than 10% of its cases were criminal cases. And unsurprisingly, the patent troll usually win the lawsuits.
At the same time, the supreme court also ruled “generically implemented software is an idea, unless there are technological improvement, else it is not going to be patented”. In another word, unless the patent troll can come up with a working software or improvement, else it won’t be a patent.
Patent trolls are known for slowing down innovation and they are only making profit by submitting their ideas earlier to the patent and trademark office and sue companies and individuals that share similar ideas with them. With this “minor modification” in the justice system, will patent trolls be less likely to win lawsuits?