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Why tech vendors fund patent 'trolls'

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#1 TheSentinel


    The man in the dark

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:30 PM

Why tech vendors fund patent 'trolls'
Experts say it's about protection from lawsuits and access to a large pool of patents
By Gina Smith
April 5, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Major technology vendors are financing the activities of so-called patent trolls, according to experts, court documents and patent and other legal filings, a Computerworld investigation has found.

Patent "trolls" -- more politely called mass patent aggregators, nonpracticing entities or, as the Federal Trade Commission defines them, patent assertion entities (PAEs) -- litigate more than they innovate. These companies derive the bulk of their income, if not all of it, from licensing the huge libraries of patents they hold and from the money they make by suing companies that use their patents without permission.

The bottom line for both consumers and IT professionals is that the costs of defending patents are passed along to consumers in the form of higher product prices, and the lawsuits hamper technology innovation, experts say. Some tech vendors -- including Apple and Micron -- rail against the concept of patent 'nuisance' lawsuits, only to fund or otherwise support some of the patent aggregators. (See sidebar.)

In a May 2011 report, Citigroup analyst Walter Pritchard said that phone maker HTC pays Microsoft $5 for every Android phone sold as part of a patent settlement reached in April 2011. By those numbers, HTC paid Microsoft somewhere between $35 million and $45 million in the first quarter of 2011 for patent fees alone.

More: http://www.computerw..._patent_trolls_