Patent trolls have sucked $500 billion out of US companies so far, Boston University study reveals

Patent trolls have sucked $500 billion out of US companies so far, Boston University study reveals
Amidst the lawsuits flying around in the mobile industry between Apple, Samsung, HTC, Google, Motorola, Microsoft and the like, it is easy to forget the bigger picture of just how broken the patent system is overall.

Researchers from Boston University have found out that publicly listed companies have been sued by "non-practicing entities", or the so-called patent trolls, to the tune of $500 billion in settlements since 1990.

The amount is breathtaking for companies that feed on nothing but loopholes. The average comes to about $25 billion per year, but in the last four years that figure has climbed up to $83 billion, so if someone does the same measurement in 2020, we might hit a cool trillion given away to patent trolls in this decade.

The reform bill that the President signed the other day only addresses the first-to-file issue, and doesn't really give long-term solutions to the boatload of unneeded, ambulance-chasing patent lawsuits that only serve to pad lawyers' pockets.

source: ArsTechnica

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9 Comments

1. Mad Iguana unregistered

How does $500bn over 21 years (since 1990) equate to an average of $50bn a year? Am I missing something obvious?

2. Daniel.P

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

Sorry, fixed...

3. som

Posts: 768; Member since: Nov 10, 2009

US President must ban the Patent Wars and be a free World just like auto industries nobody is suing anybody whether they built 2, 3, 4, 6, or 8 wheeler vehicles and packed all the technology inside it. Rotten Apple it is a free world don't wasted money on lawyers.

4. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the auto industry isnt a free world. american auto industries are propped up by politicians and tax payers only ford at this point could stand on its own. if it was a free world chevy and chrysler would have filed chapter 11 and come out as healthy union free/reduced companies that were solvent.. not held upright by our taxes.

7. waveydavey unregistered

maybe you misunderstood tha article, which clearly labels patent trolls as non-practicing entities. Apple, as I have said many times on this site, is not a patent troll.

5. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Should large companies be the only ones who can sue for patent infringement? Cause without the trolls, they would be the only ones who could afford the roughly $5+ million it takes to press a patent infringement lawsuit.

8. Zee112 unregistered

The problem is NOT large vs small corporations. The problem is companies that MAKE PRODUCTS vs companies that DON'T MAKE ANYTHING BUT OWN PATENTS. Patent trolls are known for threatening smaller companies that can't afford to go to court and just pay the protection money so they don't get put out of business: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack

9. waveydavey unregistered

this was an awesome story. i was flabbergasted when i heard it on npr.

6. Rawrzellers

Posts: 224; Member since: Aug 22, 2010

Maybe I should study law in college. This looks like you could make a really good living. It's not like it's hurting the companies though. They'll just earn it back probably 7 times over the same year.

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