According to a new study from Boston University reports that non-practicing entities, or "patent trolls", cost the United States $29 billion in 2011 alone. Pushing monetary damages to the side for a minute, the study finds that the increasing number of lawsuits is sidetracking innovation for small- and medium-sized companies.
We could name a few patent trolls right now, but for the uninformed a patent troll would be an individual, or a company, that acquires patents and licenses out their use or simply sits on them without any intent to manufacturer an intent with that patent in-hand. The study finds that small- and medium-sized businesses are the most affect by patent trolling.
Small- and medium-sized businesses are required to redirect funds from innovative research and development to purchase sometimes vague and overly broad patents in an attempt to 'cover all bases'. Some have said that Nathan Myhrvoid, founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures, is a perfect example of a patent troll. Intellectual Ventures' sole mission is to buy and license patents, but Myhrvoid has argued that the big boys, Apple, Google and Samsung are now doing the exact same thing he is.