The Effect of Patent Trolls Upon the American Economy

By: Daniel Steingold | June 08, 2016

Austin Meyer, the developer of X-Plane, a flight simulator, is the latest victim of a patent troll. A patent troll, for clarification, is an individual who buys a broad set of patents, not with the intention of actually making a product or service, but to simply sue anyone who may infringe upon their patent.

Often, patent trolls will lease offices in a patent-friendly region, as this helps enhance any legal argument they may present. Eastern Texas is one of the more prominent regions for patent trolls to succeed.

Meyer, who was sued in 2012 by Uniloc, was presented with a lawsuit for the simple fact that he had used Google Play to distribute his app. Uniloc claims that they own the patent behind the app market.

After having done some research, Meyer discovered that the judge typically involved in the Eastern Texas cases is kin of the prosecuting lawyer. In fact, the prosecuting lawyer, Bo Davis, is the son of Judge Leonard Davis.

Meyer also discovered that many of the offices of patent trolls are completely empty, devoid of any equipment, or even a receptionist. Since typically no more than a business address is needed for these patent trolls, they exploit this legal loophole.

Meyer claims that his specific legal case in ongoing, and it has caused a lot of stress, both emotionally and financially.

Overall, defense against a patent lawsuit can cost millions of dollars. Patent lawyers are believed to have filed thousands of suits in 2015. One study found that patent patent trolls cost the economy $29 billion in 2013.

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