What SMEs Can Do When Patent Trolls Come Calling

This is serious stuff—especially for an economic sector that produces most of this nation’s net job growth. Therefore, it’s time for responsible members of our industry to step up and help deal with the scourge of patent troll demand letters.

FIGHTING BACK
Stand Up to the Demand is a campaign designed to help small businesses identify and respond to these demand letters. The first phase of our campaign features a website with an infographic quiz that helps business owners distinguish a patent troll demand letter from a legitimate notice letter.

“We believe that a responsible licensor should not seek licenses or threaten litigation against a small business such as a start-up company, a local retailer or end-user customer.”

For example, have you received a demand letter addressed to no one in particular— perhaps “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Business Owner?” That’s a pretty good indicator that a patent troll has targeted you and hundreds of other businesses of a similar size or industry classification for a form letter shakedown.

Legitimate notice letters are always addressed to a specific person in a specific company. And ethically, we believe that a responsible licensor should not seek licenses or threaten litigation against a small business such as a start-up company, a local retailer or end-user customer.

Was the letter sent by some company you have never heard of, and does it fail to identify the true owner of the patent? That’s another clue that you’re the target of a bad demand letter.

Does the letter lack actual evidence that your particular business, or its products and services, are infringing one of the troll’s patents? Vague accusations of infringement that have no clear connection to your business are the hallmark of bogus demand letters.