While it appears that much of the threat caused by Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs), or “patent trolls,” has greatly diminished. There is even a larger existential problem for startups lurking in the background: the threat of being cannibalized by their larger industry partners. And, oftentimes these fledgling companies have no meaningful way to protect themselves.
The patent world is still adjusting to recent Supreme Court decisions like Alice and TC Heartland, along with the effectiveness of the inter partes review (IPR) program. The combination of these factors is starting to have a positive effect on abusive litigation from patent trolls – entities that have a business model of acquiring bad patents and suing tech companies with the intention of settling when those companies decide against costly litigation, even if they are likely to win. According to a Unified Patents report, the patent troll problem is steadily decreasing, due in large part to the Court decisions and IPR.