Instead of conducting research and development or manufacturing or selling products, individuals or organizations that seek to collect a large number of patents and seek compensation from companies that may be infringing them are known as "patent trolls" Or patent troll]. Their presence has become a headache for high-tech companies.
It has been reported that such patent trolls have hindered technological innovation, and that multiple multinational companies such as Apple, Microsoft and BMW have submitted letters requesting EU regulators to regulate patent acquisition for compensation. . According to the Financial Times, 35 companies, including Apple, and four industry groups have sent letters to the European Commission warning that patent trolls are curbing innovation. Industrial policy commissioner Thierry Breton has been reported to have called for strict rules to prevent patent holders from "making the system a toy."
He also noted that the court ordered a total ban on product sales in the past when a single patent was found infringed. He then asked the EU courts to take a more flexible approach.
To add to this, there is a case in the U.S. that even if a patent infringement is found, if the plaintiff has the characteristics of patent troll, "only the damages will be granted and the injunction claim will be dismissed." Because.
Specifically, in 2006, MerExchange sued eBay in the United States. In this case, Internet auction developer MerExchange infringed on eBay's "Buy It Now," a feature that allows users to bid immediately at a fixed price without participating in an auction. What was appealed as. Prior to that, there was a principle theory that "if a patent infringement is found, an injunction must be automatically issued," and a ruling [appeal appeal] was made once according to that principle.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court found that injunction has four requirements [intractable infringement / damage alone does not provide enough relief / consideration of balance between plaintiff and defendant / injunction does not impair public interest ], Abandoning the appellate judgment's ruling that it needs to be fulfilled and returning it to the district court. Since then, there has been a growing momentum to deter infringement orders and to avoid trolls aimed at massive damages by not using them after obtaining the patent.
Prior to the case, Apple and Intel collaborated with the U.S. investment fund Fortress Investment Group [a SoftBank Group] for collecting patents and litigating high-tech companies for antitrust violations.Filed a lawsuit with the United States District Court.
District courts in the eastern state of Texas are known to tend to rule in favor of patent trolls,Apple closed down its own stores in the areaAt the same time, some speculated that it might be a litigation measure. And Europe is also a good place for patent goloes seeking an injunction on products.
Apple and other companies signing the letter also urge Breton to develop rules that require "proportional" [but not excessive] response to patent infringement allegations. Of course, intellectual property rights should be respected by any individual or company, but it is hoped that a balance should be maintained within the scope of innovation of high-tech companies and customer convenience.