The i2Coalition is just past our first year of existence. This is our second Halloween. It’s our first Halloween working on patent reform. While we didn’t start out with patent reform as one of our main issues, it has certainly become a top priority. When I helped found the organization, I assumed patents were ‘big company’ issues, and Internet infrastructure companies are predominantly small businesses – entrepreneurs who serve the needs of entrepreneurs and drive the digital economy. When we started polling members, we found that patent trolls were hitting us and our customers hard.
It makes sense. The patent troll problem exploded at about the same time as the open source software movement went mainstream. Patent trolls love to exploit vague business process patents to go after many of the tools we have all come to use – especially open source tools like webmail and shopping cart solutions. So this is an issue that affects everybody, but impacts our industry specifically to an even greater degree than most. When patent trolls target small businesses, those small businesses are at risk of shutting their doors – or canceling their employee bonus programs, or downsizing their dreams in deference to a troll that builds nothing and produces nothing. Patent trolls clearly exploit a broken system.
In 2011 alone, patent trolls cost companies $29 billion in lost revenue and resources. They unfairly target legitimate businesses in hopes of a payday they clearly haven’t earned. A patent troll is often referred to as an NPE, or Non-Practicing Entity. They don’t contribute to the economy. Patent trolls just own a piece of paper that allows them to shake down innovators, and do it cheaply and without risk.
For innovators, every day is a spooky Halloween – with thousands of trolls going door to door taking everybody’s candy, and they don’t ask nicely the way our kids have been taught to do. For this Halloween, beware of patent trolls and help us spread the word that patent reform is needed! Share our patent troll graphic on your social media networks and learn more about joining us in our efforts to fight patent trolls by becoming a member today.