Entrepreneurs Are Locked In Battle With Patent Trolls And It’s Getting Ugly

2016 was a bad year for entrepreneurs in their fight against patent trolls. Most of the headlines were dominated by the never-ending battle between tech giants like Apple and Samsung, Google and Facebook. But it’s the little people who are often the worst affected.

trollWikimedia Commons

The primary targets of patent trolls aren’t the big corporations. They’re small businesses raking in less than $10 million a year. What’s worse, defending against these patent trolls is tough for small businesses. According to the data, the average cost of defending a patent troll lawsuit is around $3.2 million. So to put it bluntly, patent trolling can really hurt businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them.

 

Startups Are Targeted

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With the number of world patent marketing complaints growing, entrepreneurs need to be careful. Patent trolls look for the most vulnerable companies and then strike, often without warning. They know that big businesses are a tougher target. They can afford to get the best lawyers and make life tough for the trolls. Startups, on the other hand, simply don’t have the range of expertise that they need to mount a successful defense. More often than not they’re still getting to grips with their own product rather than studying the legal code.

Because startups have such limited funds, every last dollar is directed towards the goal of growing the business. Funds are earmarked for marketing, inventory management and taking on new staff. There simply isn’t the budget to fight a patent troll claim. Patent trolls know this. And they know that most startups would rather settle than take the dispute all the way to court.

 

What Can Startups Do To Defend Against The Trolls?

Many of the lawsuits brought against startups are pathetically weak. Many cases, if there are brought to court, actually fall through. But still, many startups feel as if there’s nothing they can do to combat the patent trolls. As a result, trolling is a significant drag on innovation which mainly comes from startups.

Startups, however, are fighting back.

First, they’re all clubbing together to defend against patent lawsuits. Often, it’s not just one startup that is in breach of IP, it’s many. Trolls will go after all of them to extract as much easy cash as they can. But companies can fight back. Instead of stumping up the $150,000 on by themselves, companies are now teaming together to shoulder the costs of defense. Patent trolls will often target ten companies or more all at once. Those companies can then team together to pay just $15,000 each, a figure that’s much more affordable.

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Second, they can sign up to nonprofits, like the LOT Network. Networks like these are designed to protect entrepreneurs from the action of patent trolls by pooling member patents.

Third, startups can make as much noise as possible about the fact that they are being sued. The noisier they are, the more difficult it will be for the trolls and the lawyers to win their case. Get the message out and generate public pressure. Share the details of your case and get the public involved in the proceedings.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, Founder of Inspired Marketing, Inc., helps overachieving women entrepreneurs conquer limiting beliefs and create marketing plans that grow their businesses. This includes one-on-one marketing plan development, digital product creation, web design and content marketing. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.

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One comment

  1. Entrepreneurs need to be careful when they are marketing their world patent applications. There have been a increasing number of complaints about the patent system, and some entrepreneurs may be unaware of the risks. If someone is complaining about your world patent application, it is important to investigate the issue and take steps to address it.

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