Just over a week into the new session of the North Carolina General Assembly, legislation aimed at the abusive assertion of patent infringement claims by “patent trolls” may be gaining traction, with a bill apparently headed to the House of Representatives for a floor vote later this week.
The term “patent troll” is usually used to refer to an entity which does not conduct research, develop technology or products related to its patents, or perform any technology transfer function. Instead, patent trolls acquire patents solely for the purpose of obtaining licensing fees from alleged infringers, often asserting vague infringement claims against large numbers of potential targets with little or no support. According to a June 2013 White House study entitled Patent Assertion and U.S. Innovation, suits by patent trolls tripled in 2011 and 2012, rising to 62 percent of all patent infringement suits filed in the United States. One assessment cited by the White House reported that patent trolls collected over $29 billion from defendants and licensees in 2011, with less than 25% of those funds being used to finance further research and innovation.
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