2015 – The year of the patent trolls?

According to a recent survey of the US organization Unified Patents (published on the website of the online portal arstechnica, please click here), the number of lawsuits in the US has again rised. In the first half of 2015, 68 percent of all patent lawsuits were filed by patent trolls. In the high-tech sector, even about 90 percent of all patent litigation was started by trolls. Patent trolls are a certain, aggressive type of non-practicing entities or NPEs. NPEs are companies that hold patents and focus on generating revenue by licensing and enforcing those patents instead of using them in developing their own product portfolio. Top targets of patent trolls are usually high-profile tech and pharmaceutical companies, as again confirmed in the survey of Unified Patents.

In Europe, patent troll activities are on a considerably lower level, because patents must be enforced seperately in each jurisdiction. This may quickly change with the introduction of the Unitary Patent, a single patent that will be valid in most European Member States (click here for more information). Under the new system, it will be easier for a patent holder to enforce its IP right in a multitude of jurisdictions and thus put a higher pressure on the defendant. It remains to be seen whether the trend of patent lawsuits initiated by trolls will also catch Europe – or if the Unified Patent Court finds means to make patent litigation in Europe less attractive for trolls.