New Crowdsourcing Tool to Help Fight 'Patent Trolls'
A coalition of organizations and law schools has launched Trolling Effects, a new online crowdsourcing tool in the fight against patent assertion entities (PAEs), also known as “patent trolls.”
Trolling Effects is a web-based resource that aims to unite and empower would-be victims of patent trolls through a crowdsourced database of demand letters, said Adi Kamdar of the Electronic Frontier Foundation—one of the key members of the coalition. It will also serve as a clearinghouse of information on PAEs.
"Patent trolls will no longer be able to hide under a cloak of legal darkness," Kamdar said. "Trolling Effects will shine a light on companies that abuse the patent system to shake down innovators."
PAEs exist primarily to buy up patents and assert them against companies that must either pay for a license or engage in expensive litigation to fight infringement claims. The majority of cases do not become lawsuits, since companies often simply pay for a license to make the PAE go away. Most of the demand letters from PAEs therefore never show up in public dockets.
In June, the White House joined calls from Congress for more transparency around demand letters. Trolling Effects aims to provide that transparency, EFF said. The site will allow demand-letter recipients to post the documents online, find letters received by others, and research who is really behind the threats. The site also features comprehensive guides to the patent system and a blueprint for patent reform.
"Trolling Effects began with the idea that people need to come together to defeat patent trolls," said EFF Staff Attorney Julie Samuels, who also holds the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. "Innovators who previously would have had to face the troll threat alone can use this new collaborative tool to share information and intelligence."
In addition to the EFF, other members of the Trolling Effects coalition include: Application Developers Alliance, Ask Patents, Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU School of Law, Engine Advocacy, Public Knowledge, PUBPAT, and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at Berkeley Law.