Advocates of patent reform now have another weapon in their holster—a recent study by California law professor Colleen Chien that found the majority of patent suits are now brought by trolls. Not the giant ugly creatures that terrorize Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit,” but individuals or entities who don’t produce anything themselves, but bring patent lawsuits in the hopes of making money.

In 2012, 61 percent of all patent lawsuits filed through Dec. 1 were brought by trolls, not by an entity or individual with a valid claim on the technology. In 2011, trolls brought 45 percent of suits, and in 2007 they brought 23 percent.

Startups are being hit particularly hard by the club of the patent trolls. Chien’s study shows that 35 percent of startup companies that have raised between $50 million and $100 million have been sued on a patent, and 20 percent that have raised $20 million to $50 million have been hit.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.


For more coverage of patent trolls on InsideCounsel, see below:

IP: A boon for patent trolls

Patent trolls may have to pay legal costs

IP: Don’t feed the patent trolls

The global IP battlefield