Unified Patents is a relatively new form of patent troll that works as a “Troll of Trolls” or “ToT.” They file IPRs (inter-partes reexamination requests) to kill patents. While they purport to only attack “bad patents,” their definition of a “bad patent” is simply any patent asserted against their clients. So who are their clients? Good question – that is a large part of the problem. They keep most of their clients’ identities secret. Unified does identify a handful of their members on their website such as Adobe, Google, NetApp, Roku, and Salesforce.
However, in litigation before the PTAB Unified has (so far successfully) claimed that its member list is a trade secret and should not be disclosed, even in IPR proceedings and even to the owner of the patent Unified is seeking to invalidate. The only persons allowed seeing the member list in the Dragon IP LLC Case before the PTAB were experts not employed by the patent owner. It seems remarkably unfair for a patent owner to not even know who is the funding source behind an effort to kill their patents that they rightfully obtained. But that is the state of the US patent system right now.
Why do these companies not want to file IPRs on their own?
Among other reasons, Unified Patents’ client does not want to be seen as killing innovations via attacking patents. Rather, they pay Unified Patent to do dirty work. Plus if Google wants to file a IPR on a particular patent and is unsuccessful then it would look bad for Google to again challenge the patent in litigation. In short, Unified Patent makes money by attacking innovation. Unified would say it is trying to defeat the so called “patent-trolls”. But even when trolls existed they were on the side of innovator. The troll entities may have been problematic, but they were representing inventors. The original patent troll was non-practising entities, or NPE.
Unified patent is an NPE. When Unified Patent kills patent in the name of biggest of the bis corporation, they are siding against innovation. This makes them worst Patent troll ever were. Thus the term “troll of trolls” or ToT. For those who are upset with this recall that when Kyle Bass attacked pharma patents to lower costs of prescription drugs, he was maligned as a troll. But Bass was targeting large companies that have on their side billions of dollars and significant market leverage. The reason so many large tech companies are anti-patent is that they simply do not need patents since they can squash small inventors with their cash reserves and cross-license with other tech behemoths.
An exception to China
China unlike America had made innovation the top priority. For instance, while china’s economic growth had slowed down, this is because such a lull is a natural consequence of a shift from manufacturing –based to an innovation- and consumer based economy. Because china thinks long term, its government will very unlikely to accept attacks on proxy- especially by a foreign company such as unified.
1. Firstly, patents are essential to china’s growth as a technology and powerhouse.
2. China companies are no longer copycats wannabes of yesteryears. They are leading the world in many area of technology.
3. The Chinese government is not going to be happy if a foreign trolls of trolls comes in to kill patent on behalf of American companies.