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The tech industry is notoriously competitive. Tech giants like Facebook and Google are constantly battling to gain dominance over categories, like video and mobile advertising, while startups go head-to-head to capture users’ limited attention and precious dollars.

Competition is undoubtedly a force for good in the tech industry, but sometimes rivalries needs to be put aside for the greater good. This is particularly true when it comes to the fight against patent trolls. Patent trolls will only be defeated when tech companies come together, put aside their differences and competitiveness, and help each other. It’s time to be good corporate citizens and form a collective, united front in this fight.

The Battlefield

The tech industry is a prime target of Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), more commonly known as patent trolls. In 2015, patent troll lawsuits hit an all-time high. More than 10,000 companies have been sued at least once by a patent troll and the rates of PAE suits are growing by double-digits every year. PAEs are aggressively going after tech companies across sizes and sectors, draining over $83 billion in wealth and curbing innovation as as they go.

While many of the high-profile patent troll causes are waged against large, powerful companies like Apple and Microsoft, the reality is that small-to-medium businesses face the greatest risk. Sixty-two percent of the companies sued by trolls last year have less than $100 million in revenue and the average defendant in a PAE case makes an average of $10.1 million a year. Taking a patent case to trial costs between $2-6 million, a fee most SMBs can’t afford. Even a single legal response to a frivolous lawsuit can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Patent abusers know this and purposely price their settlement demands below the cost of defense. This is why a vast majority of defendants settle, even if the claim has no merit.

Given that small businesses account for 43 percent of high tech employment, according to a study conducted by the Small Business Administration, and that they are the primary drivers of high tech innovation, patent trolls pose a serious threat to the tech industry as a whole, not just the companies who get sued by them. Therefore, the fight against patent trolls must also be a cooperative, joint, industry-wide effort.

Strength In Numbers

If patent suits continue to be fought on a defensive, case-by-case basis, trolls will continue to gain ground and escalate their efforts. Since they prey on weakness, settling with a patent troll only validates their approach. However, many defendants lack the resources to litigate suits through trial even though less than 1 percent of all defendants in PAE suits are found guilty.

To drive meaningful progress and change, tech companies have to team up. This not only means working together, but also helping one another. Driving real progress requires marketplace competitors to suspend their oppositional mindsets and realize that they share a common enemy — PAEs. It also means that larger, well-resourced companies have a responsibility to help smaller companies that don’t have the same financial and legal arsenal. Otherwise, the smaller companies remain open targets that trolls can exploit to their advantage, and the entire industry will suffer.

Cooperation can benefit tech companies and curb PAE activity in a number of ways. One is to reduce the supply of patents to trolls. In the hands of trolls, patents are weapons: more than 80 percent of patents litigated by PAEs are acquired from operating companies. One company committing not to sell to PAEs may not make a significant dent in the supply, but hundreds or thousands of companies banding together to do the same could choke the PAE pipeline. Even startup founders or investors who may view their patents as the source of a few mitigating dollars if the company doesn’t make it should consider the fact that weaponized patents can end up harming other portfolio companies or inhibit their own future entrepreneurial efforts.

There are organizations that have created communities to facilitate this type of cooperation. For example, LOT Network is a nonprofit coalition of companies where if one member sells a patent, all the other companies automatically get license to it. In the event a PAE gets hold of a patent, every member is immunized against it. The more companies that join communities like this, the weaker patent trolls become.

Another opportunity for tech companies to undermine trolls is by taking a collaborative approach to litigation. Uniting with other tech companies can make fighting a PAE possible in the first place and/or enable a defendant to wage a more effective fight. By helping one another, by sharing resources and expertise, tech companies are better able to develop smart strategy. For example, a startup that has experience dealing with a patent troll might be able to recommend an affordable law firm that focuses on patent law to another startup.

In some cases, companies may even be able to mount of a joint defense. A majority of patent suit filings today come from “ankle biters,” or nuisance trolls that file dozens of large multi-defendant cases at a time. A small business may not be able to afford to spend $250,000 on legal fees, but if 25 defendants contribute $10,000, they could fund a defense that would derail a PAE’s suit.

In addition, supporting common sense patent reforms is a way tech companies can put aside rivalries and work towards the greater good. Take the contentious issue of venue reform, for example, which would make it more difficult for patent trolls to file lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas, where 1,387 patent cases were filed in the first half of 2015 (representing 44.4 percent of all patent cases nationwide). Trolls have flocked to this district because of its plaintiff-friendly rules, which impose burdens on defendants. Venue reform is an effort to “fix this mess” by requiring plaintiffs in a patent suit to file in a district that makes sense.

PAEs have been allowed to thrive because their opposition has remained fragmented. Rather than communicating and cooperating, defendants attempt to deal with the problem on their own, which is not a viable long term strategy. Patent abusers are the common enemy, and tech companies need to help each other if they ever hope to get ahead in this war. This means companies must be open to working with their stiff competitors, and larger organizations must be open to lending a helping hand to smaller companies.

Working together is essential for building relationships, encouraging innovation, and immunizing all businesses against PAEs, which will benefit the entire tech industry now and into the future.

Lee Cheng is chief legal officer of Newegg.com.

The tech industry is notoriously competitive. Tech giants like Facebook and Google are constantly battling to gain dominance over categories, like video and mobile advertising, while startups go head-to-head to capture users’ limited attention and precious dollars.

Competition is undoubtedly a force for good in the tech industry, but sometimes rivalries needs to be put aside for the greater good. This is particularly true when it comes to the fight against patent trolls. Patent trolls will only be defeated when tech companies come together, put aside their differences and competitiveness, and help each other. It’s time to be good corporate citizens and form a collective, united front in this fight.

The Battlefield

The tech industry is a prime target of Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), more commonly known as patent trolls. In 2015, patent troll lawsuits hit an all-time high. More than 10,000 companies have been sued at least once by a patent troll and the rates of PAE suits are growing by double-digits every year. PAEs are aggressively going after tech companies across sizes and sectors, draining over $83 billion in wealth and curbing innovation as as they go.

While many of the high-profile patent troll causes are waged against large, powerful companies like Apple and Microsoft , the reality is that small-to-medium businesses face the greatest risk. Sixty-two percent of the companies sued by trolls last year have less than $100 million in revenue and the average defendant in a PAE case makes an average of $10.1 million a year. Taking a patent case to trial costs between $2-6 million, a fee most SMBs can’t afford. Even a single legal response to a frivolous lawsuit can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Patent abusers know this and purposely price their settlement demands below the cost of defense. This is why a vast majority of defendants settle, even if the claim has no merit.

Given that small businesses account for 43 percent of high tech employment, according to a study conducted by the Small Business Administration, and that they are the primary drivers of high tech innovation, patent trolls pose a serious threat to the tech industry as a whole, not just the companies who get sued by them. Therefore, the fight against patent trolls must also be a cooperative, joint, industry-wide effort.

Strength In Numbers

If patent suits continue to be fought on a defensive, case-by-case basis, trolls will continue to gain ground and escalate their efforts. Since they prey on weakness, settling with a patent troll only validates their approach. However, many defendants lack the resources to litigate suits through trial even though less than 1 percent of all defendants in PAE suits are found guilty.

To drive meaningful progress and change, tech companies have to team up. This not only means working together, but also helping one another. Driving real progress requires marketplace competitors to suspend their oppositional mindsets and realize that they share a common enemy — PAEs. It also means that larger, well-resourced companies have a responsibility to help smaller companies that don’t have the same financial and legal arsenal. Otherwise, the smaller companies remain open targets that trolls can exploit to their advantage, and the entire industry will suffer.

Cooperation can benefit tech companies and curb PAE activity in a number of ways. One is to reduce the supply of patents to trolls. In the hands of trolls, patents are weapons: more than 80 percent of patents litigated by PAEs are acquired from operating companies. One company committing not to sell to PAEs may not make a significant dent in the supply, but hundreds or thousands of companies banding together to do the same could choke the PAE pipeline. Even startup founders or investors who may view their patents as the source of a few mitigating dollars if the company doesn’t make it should consider the fact that weaponized patents can end up harming other portfolio companies or inhibit their own future entrepreneurial efforts.

There are organizations that have created communities to facilitate this type of cooperation. For example, LOT Network is a nonprofit coalition of companies where if one member sells a patent, all the other companies automatically get license to it. In the event a PAE gets hold of a patent, every member is immunized against it. The more companies that join communities like this, the weaker patent trolls become.

Another opportunity for tech companies to undermine trolls is by taking a collaborative approach to litigation. Uniting with other tech companies can make fighting a PAE possible in the first place and/or enable a defendant to wage a more effective fight. By helping one another, by sharing resources and expertise, tech companies are better able to develop smart strategy. For example, a startup that has experience dealing with a patent troll might be able to recommend an affordable law firm that focuses on patent law to another startup.

In some cases, companies may even be able to mount of a joint defense. A majority of patent suit filings today come from “ankle biters,” or nuisance trolls that file dozens of large multi-defendant cases at a time. A small business may not be able to afford to spend $250,000 on legal fees, but if 25 defendants contribute $10,000, they could fund a defense that would derail a PAE’s suit.

In addition, supporting common sense patent reforms is a way tech companies can put aside rivalries and work towards the greater good. Take the contentious issue of venue reform, for example, which would make it more difficult for patent trolls to file lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas, where 1,387 patent cases were filed in the first half of 2015 (representing 44.4 percent of all patent cases nationwide). Trolls have flocked to this district because of its plaintiff-friendly rules, which impose burdens on defendants. Venue reform is an effort to “fix this mess” by requiring plaintiffs in a patent suit to file in a district that makes sense.

PAEs have been allowed to thrive because their opposition has remained fragmented. Rather than communicating and cooperating, defendants attempt to deal with the problem on their own, which is not a viable long term strategy. Patent abusers are the common enemy, and tech companies need to help each other if they ever hope to get ahead in this war. This means companies must be open to working with their stiff competitors, and larger organizations must be open to lending a helping hand to smaller companies.

Working together is essential for building relationships, encouraging innovation, and immunizing all businesses against PAEs, which will benefit the entire tech industry now and into the future.

Lee Cheng is chief legal officer of Newegg.com.