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(Illustration by David Saracino)

Companies made $29 billion in direct payments to patent trolls in 2011, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website, Trolling Effects. The overall cost of patent trolls to the economy has been estimated at approximately $80 billion per year. And now there’s a worrisome new wrinkle. There’s a trend for trolls to target end users of fairly common technologies, such as Wi-Fi, and demand that the end user pay or face a lawsuit.

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