How to define and differentiate patent assertion entities, non-practicing entities or patent trolls? A new typology gives answers!

Patent trolls have many faces, since the media uses this expression in various ways. The patent troll phenomenon thus seems to be an ambiguous term that is discussed in several directions. A recently published article on the typology of the patent troll business reveals that a patent troll as such has no distinct shape or appearance. The analysis redeems a troll classification solely from firms’ market position, such as being nonpracticing, and shows that a patent troll business can only be defined by the respective practice to enforce intellectual property rights (IPR). Using 10 case studies, of which five are treated in detail, the analysis reveals a distinct typology of IPR enforcement mechanisms and suggests a framework to assess the troll business and its effects. This paper furthermore identifies the nature of troll behavior to be: (a) a practice to enforce IP rights enabling repayments for earlier innovation investments and (b) a strategy that may create costs to affected industries. The differentiated troll analysis reveals negative but also positive effects of the troll business on incentives to innovate.


About timpohlmann

Tim Pohlmann is a post-doctoral researcher in economics at Mines ParisTech and Berlin Institute of Technology. He specializes in the economic analysis of markets for technology. He earned his doctoral degree with the highest distinctions in August 2012 from the Berlin Institute of Technology with a dissertation on patenting and coordination in ICT standardization. Tim’s research covers the empirical analysis of the trade of patents, patent trolls, standardization consortia and patent pools. He has presented his work at a large number of international conferences. Tim has been actively involved in preparing studies for the European Commission and the German Federal Government on the role of patents in technological standardization and business models in Open Source Software. Doctoral Thesis SSRN author page
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