Seeing as how patent reform has died on the vine, several tech and telecom companies are taking matters into their own hands, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Scared by the NTP v Research in Motion case, in which the BlackBerry maker came perilously close to folding under the burden of patent prosecution by the troll NTP, Google, HP, Verizon, Ericsson and Cisco have banded together as the Allied Security Trust in order to engage in what you could call defensive trolling – buying up IP before it can be used against them.
In 1990, there were 921 patent prosecutions in the U.S. Last year, through October, there were 2,500. The Allied Security Trust members will pay $250K to join and pony up $5 million to go to patent purchases. But they won't use the patents as an enforcement vehicle. They will sell the patents after granting themselves a nonexclusive license to the underlying technology, according the group's CEO, Brian Hinman, formerly IP boss at IBM.
As for the trolls, they say they provide a valuable service to inventors. Any company should be able to enforce patent rights, regardless of what it produces, if anything, says Rob Epstein, CEO of IPotential, who says companies like his provide revenue to inventors.