Intellectual Property Law Society Hosts Guest Speaker
On Friday, February 21, the Intellectual Property Law Society hosted guest speaker Lisa Mueller, who spoke about Patent Trolls, with roughly 20 College of Law students. Ms. Mueller is a partner in Michael Best’s Intellectual Property Practice Group and a member of the Life Sciences and Chemical Industry Group.
During her presentation she covered the damaging effects that patent trolls have, not only on corporations, but also on small businesses that use products that infringe upon the patent owner’s invention.
For example, a coffee shop is using a specific Wi-Fi router that may be infringing on the patent owned by the troll. The patent trolls send cease and desist letters to the small business that contain a price to settle litigation that ends up costing that business around $2,000. If the small business fails to respond to these letters, the price for settlement continues to rise, and the patent troll can effectively shake down small business owners who are not familiar with the legal issues. Today, many entrepreneurs are beginning to grow hesitant to invest in startup companies because of the danger of trolls.
“What’s really troubling is how many investors are actually choosing to invest in patent trolls because they provide such a large return,” says student AJ Wenn.
Mueller later discussed legislation to limit patent trolls at the state and federal level. She spoke about the theory of the loser paying the oppositions legal fees, however, this fails to address the problems at the small business level. She also touched on the Indian method to solve this problem, but pointed out that this would not be an efficient solution for the U.S.
Patent trolls are familiar in the United States and have gained headway in Europe, becoming extremely prevalent in Russia because of the country’s ease to patent.