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The growing number of reform bills languishing in, or rejected by, Congress may be a hint that the government is struggling like the rest of us to put a finger on the patent troll phenomenon. How do we define the scourge of the patent litigation bar that hides beneath a bridge it didn’t build, extorting tolls from passersby? Though they may struggle to define these abusers, sponsors of these bills have the right idea. Very real advantages exist for patent troll plaintiffs. Trolls that do not make or sell anything do not fear infringement counterclaims, nor do they have many employees or documents, or a business to interrupt, that make costly and painful discovery a two-way street. These free-wheeling litigants are able to dive into lawsuits without the costs and risks that are so often the checks and balances of our legal system. The result is abusive patent litigation. But defining the abusers is challenging which, in turn, makes anti-troll legislation difficult.

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