Will US patent trolls soon be making their way to the UK?

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The rise and rise of patent assertion entities (PAEs) in the US has become so serious that the problem is now being tackled at the highest political levels. To demonstrate its importance to the global economy, on 4 June the White House published a piece on its website entitled ‘Taking on Patent Trolls to Protect American Innovation’.

When speaking of ‘patent trolls’, it was referring to PAEs that acquire patents for the purpose of litigating them aggressively to collect licence and settlement money from parties they say are infringing. A study released by the White House reveals that an extraordinary 62 per cent of all 2012 patent lawsuits in the US are estimated to have been brought by patent trolls. PAEs have operated mostly in the IT and telecoms sphere because lawsuits on these patents have the potential to cause a lot of disruption to businesses with minimal costs risks.

The general rule in the US is that each party bears its own legal costs. The study includes estimates that software patents are nearly five times as likely to be in a lawsuit as chemical patents and business method patents are nearly 14 times as likely…

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