Extracting a Toll From a Patent ‘Troll’
Extracting a Toll From a Patent ‘Troll’ | NYTimes.com
It looks as if “patent trolls” are going to lose a big one.
The Supreme Court announced this month that it would hear two appeals of decisions by the federal appeals court that oversees all patent cases. In each case, the company that was sued for patent infringement won on the merits but did not prevail in having its legal fees paid by the losing party.
The court will decide whether to make it much easier for victors in patent suits to force their opponents to pay their legal fees. If it does so — and patent watchers generally assume that the court would not have agreed to hear the appeals if at least some justices were not sympathetic to the companies being sued — that could make it much more expensive to file a frivolous suit, and perhaps scare patent holders away from filing meritorious suits. Losing such a suit could conceivably bankrupt a small company if it was forced to pay the other side’s legal bills, which can run into the millions of dollars.
This could have huge implications. At the very least, it would force a patent troll to think twice before filing an industry-wide suit. If they lose, they risk everything.