Many a small business has been there. In the owner’s hands a letter filled with tons of legalese that makes little sense. They stare at the letter shocked, trying to figure out what the hell they are being accused of doing and how it means they might be liable for millions of dollars. It is becoming too real a story in America today – the plight of the patent demand letter recipient.
That is what makes the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) new effort, Trolling Effects, such an important development in stopping abusive patent trolling. The website seeks to collect and publish the many demand letters that often hide in the netherworlds of office filing cabinets, never to see the light of day after a small settlement is reached. They are trying to shed light on one of the most potent tools used by patent trolls – the threatening demand letter.
If successful, Trolling Effects should help to continue to highlight the patent troll problem, help us see patterns, especially from particular trolls, and bring transparency to the problem. When advocates talk about the patent troll problem, it is very hard to both quantitatively and qualitatively describe the patent troll demand letter abuses that occur, and the extent of the economic harm they create. Hopefully, by bringing transparency, it will both help efforts to fix the problem and allow it to be better understood.
EFF deserves huge kudos for organizing this project and we look forward to partnering with them on it.