Today, almost any business that uses basic technology is a possible target of patent trolls -- the result of a patent system that has done a terrible job of evaluating software patents and a court system that hasn't done much better at examining them. In some cases, trolls are even forcing business owners to choose between paying employees and paying legal fees.
Patent trolls are companies that collect patents so they can then use their portfolios to generate revenue that demand money from companies over patent infringement claims and often file lawsuits in hopes of pressuring a payout.
In an attempt to stop this madness, tech giants Apple, Google and Samsung have come together in Europe to get patent trolls under control. They are among 19 companies that told the EU in a letter to take action to limit the ability of companies that hold patents as their primary source of income from using the legal system to extort money out of other businesses.
The companies are asking the EU to create guidance for the member state's courts so they're prepared to know when injunctions are appropriate. Not to mention, manufacturers are turning to lawmakers in Europe as well as the U.S. patent troll battles.
"Without this guidance, the potential exists for a court to order an injunction prohibiting the importation and sale of goods even though the patent may ultimately be found invalid," the companies, including China smartphone maker Huawei Technologies and Google, wrote in a letter that was sent to EU authorities.
As of late, Apple has been involved in a series of mobile device patent infringement lawsuits against Samsung, and is indirectly targeting Google's Android OS in the process. Despite this friction between the companies, they all want to find a way to cut down on the lawsuits patent trolls file.
The EU is looking into creating a patent-specific court as part of a move to a unified patent system for all the member states, which should make it easier to manage patent cases across borders. If Apple, Samsung, Google and the others get what they want, the EU patent system will make it easier to identify companies abusing the system and cut down on the threat.
For more on patent trolls, check out these articles: