Red Hat, Google and Others Take Aim at Patent Trolls

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 08, 2013

In a very loing comments document submitted to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, several companies, including Red Hat, are urging arms of the U.S. government to take stronger action against patent trolls. Google, BlackBerry and EarthLink are on board with Red Hat in the effort, which takes a strong stance against against companies that abuse patents for financial gains.

According to the Google Public Policy blog:

"Today, we submitted comments together with BlackBerry, EarthLink and Red Hat to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice on the growing harm caused by patent assertion entities (more widely known as patent trolls).

We’ve been encouraged by recent attention on the problem of trolls, which cost the U.S. economy nearly $30 billion a year. Trolls are hurting consumers and are increasingly going after small businesses, hampering innovation and reducing competition.

Our comments today also focus on a worrisome trend: some companies are increasingly transferring patents to trolls—and providing incentives to assert those patents against their competitors. These transfers can raise rivals’ costs and undermine patent peace." 

What's really notable about the Comments document sent to the FTC and DoJ is how specific it gets about various patent-related practices. For example, it goes into detail about privaterring, which occurs when a company splits its patent portfolio into smaller sub-portfolios stacked on each other, increasing the number of entities that other companies have to deal with when patent issues arise. Privateering can greatly increase licensing costs.

"We’re asking other companies to work with us to develop cooperative licensing agreements that can help curb privateering," the Google post notes. "We’re also encouraged that the FTC and DOJ are paying attention to this critical issue, and we hope they will continue to study how abusive troll litigation and patent privateering are harming innovative industries."