Saturday 22 June 2013

Federal Trade Commission to Seek Information about “Patent Trolls”

The White House continues to move against the “patent trolls”.  The chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Edith Ramirez, announced that the FTC would gather information concerning “patent trolls” and their practices.   Back in April, Google, Blackberry, Red Hat and Earthlink (collectively, Google) submitted comments to the FTC and Department of Justice requesting the inquiry.  In the comments, Google provided some potential questions for “trolls”:

How prevalent is outsourcing of patent enforcement by operating companies to PAEs?

What types of arrangement have PAEs and operating companies consummated? 

What motivates these arrangements?

What are the likely competitive harms and benefits of outsourcing?

What are the competitive implications of the secrecy with which many PAEs conduct their operations?

Do the particular terms of outsourcing arrangements indicate that operating companies are employing PAE proxies as competitive weapons?

The comments are well worth a read.  From the reports on the chairwoman’s comments (unfortunately, I could not find a copy of the comments--if you have access to them, please let me know and I'll post them), it appears that the inquiry may be broader than the questions posed by Google, but it appears those questions will be addressed (here, here, here and here).  More information about "patent trolls" and their practices is welcome.  The National Retail Federation, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association announced they are supportive of the FTC’s efforts. 

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