We Can’t Let the Trolls Win

smallbee2For the better part of 20 years, Somali pirates developed and grew a frightening “cottage industry.”  They would buzz ships on the high seas, board them, take prisoners, and demand ransoms.  Some of them became rich through the fear and suffering of their victims.  Ultimately, their “industry” withered when the ships began arming themselves and repelling the pirates, and governments stood against them.

Now a new cottage industry has sprung up, called “patent trolling,” in which individuals or groups file nuisance lawsuits claiming patent infringement in the hopes the amount of hassle and expense involved in fighting them will cause companies to buckle and pay out large settlements. Many companies have done just that, which of course encourages the patent trolls to enlarge their efforts.

This is a frightening development, because it threatens every business and entrepreneur in this country. At any time, any part of any product offered could be used as an excuse to file extravagant and even erroneous claims of patent infringement.

One small business, called “Laminar Research,” makers of X-Plane flight simulator, is putting its foot down and saying “no.” They are fighting the patent troll lawsuit at their own expense, and their boldness has brought them international attention. It has led to the creation of a petition of the White House asking for a change in the laws to make it harder to file these patent attacks.

Many signatures are needed on the petition, which has just been launched. It might be that this is a petition you would like to sign as well.