Small businesses are more frequently becoming the targets of non-practicing entities (NPEs). Commonly referred to as “patent trolls,” NPEs charge businesses with patent infringement in order to extort money from them.
RPX, a provider of patent risk management solutions, has found that within the last year, 68 percent of the defendants involved in NPE cases were private companies and 61 percent had less that $100 million in revenue. Furthermore, according to the Wall Street Journal, the volume of NPE patent suits has increased almost 600 percent over the past five years.
But today, RPX launched its new online tool that allows users to find patent data relevant to demand letters. With this new development, smaller businesses now have a resource to turn to when faced with NPE pressures, and most importantly, it’s free to use.
Named RPX Search, the database contains information on 8 million patents, 6 million docket entries, 300,000 parties and 45,000 litigation cases. Any business, small or large, can research background on the sender or co-defendants, information on patents related to the litigation and details on other litigations filed on the same patents or by the same sender. Moreover, the online search engine can help companies assess and evaluate the potential risk they face from the NPE before paying for legal counsel.
"We are pleased to put our substantial database amassed over the past six years to work for small businesses, who currently have no free resource to help assess demand letters, gauge their threat and credibility, or learn about the accusing entity," said John A. Amster, chief executive and co-founder of RPX. "We hope every business facing this problem takes advantage of this service. The more companies that participate, the more we can increase information transparency that will reduce the cost associated with patent risk."
RPX Search is the first free online database providing public access to research on patents, litigations and entity data in one source. With this new tool, smaller businesses now have a resource to rely on in the fight against patent trolls. However, the battle is far from over as the Senate still struggles to more forward with patent legislation.