Your Defense Strategy Against Patent Trolls

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A patent troll is an individual/company that acquires broad patents and uses them to target businesses with infringement litigation. Also known as non-practicing entities (NPE) these companies are not involved in the manufacturing or production and their business model is to file claims with the sole purpose of pecuniary gains. The very patent laws that serve as protection for an invention are abused by patent trolls with the intent to gain licensing fees from small businesses by alleging infringement. The allegation may be uncertain or lacking proof, but their main tactic is to scare the business and force them into an agreement.  
Needless to say, patent trolls are a nuisance to small and big businesses alike. While each infringement case is unique, below are some guidelines to follow when confronted by a patent troll.  

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Dealing with Patent Trolls 

If you have received a letter from an unknown company citing a vague patent claim, then it has most likely been sent by an NPE. The frequency of such letters keeps increasing and there may be a demand for an unreasonable amount for the settlement contained in these letters. If faced with this situation, here is what you need to do:

Keep Calm

The two most common reactions to a demand letter are ignoring it or freaking out. Both are a mistake. Since demand letters are legal documents, they enter public records. It is therefore not wise to disregard their existence. On the other hand, losing your composure in view of the impending extortion is not good either. It can create a panic situation thereby leading you to make regrettable decisions. Your best bet is to keep calm and assess the situation practically. Follow a methodical approach when dealing with trolls and always employ the assistance of an experienced attorney to handle the case. 

Dig For Information 

It is good to go to battle prepared. Start by doing some research about the patentee. You can discover plenty of information through documents, court dockets, websites, etc., which will come in handy when designing your defense strategy. You can also approach their previous targets to understand the modus operandi adopted by the NPE. All of this will give you leverage when fighting your case.   

Ask Questions 

Most patent trolls come with little to no information when filing for claims infringement. They are only looking for easy targets that give in to their demands. That’s why, when you start asking specific questions, the tables get turned on the trolls. Make them work by sending detailed and specific information about the infringement. This includes citing evidence and definitions that make up their case. This pressure tactic will certainly make them sweat and establish that you are not going to give in easily.   

Go Public 

Trolls seldom want to be out in the public eye. Their strategy is to work anonymously and reveal as little information as possible. Therefore, going public with a press release, blog post, or any form of social media hurts them. This campaign will have two effects- it will deter the troll and also help you gather support. The power of social media can work tremendously in your favor and help expose the troll. In order to pursue this strategy, one must remember to never sign any non-disclosure agreement as it will prevent you from going public. 

Work Together 

Trolls always target a bunch of companies together and run multiple lawsuits in the hope of achieving monetary success from at least a few. So, when you receive a demand letter begin searching for other businesses that are in the same boat. Join forces and prepare a defense agreement to counter the troll’s claims. Fighting together helps pool in resources and information and reduces the burden of legal fees, thereby making you stronger and increasing the chances of winning.  

Profess Financial Inadequacy 

The sole aim of patent trolls is to extract money. So, the best way to ward them off is to cry poor. Make it clear that you lack the resources to face either a costly settlement or court case. You can reach out personally to the patentee to explain the situation by sharing the company’s financial information. If the trolls are convinced that they have nothing to gain from your business, they are likely to leave you alone.   

Prove Claim Invalidity 

Given that most infringement claims by patent trolls are frivolous, you can easily find proof of invalidity. Instead of being intimidated by their tactics, do thorough research to identify contradictions and study the claim in depth. You will likely find concrete evidence to prove that the claims are false. By presenting this evidence to the troll you can avoid a courtroom drama!  

Use Online Resources 

The enormity of data and information present online can certainly work in your favor when dealing with a patent troll. The USPTO website is one such tool that can help you ascertain the best course of action when you have been served with an infringement discovery or subpoena. 

Seek Legal Advice 

Since the trolls are using legal means to arm-wrestle you, it is best to reply in the same language. Hire an attorney as soon as you receive a demand letter to work out a solid legal strategy. Following the advice of an attorney when communicating with the trolls conveys that you are not ready to settle easily. 

Be Prepared 

Patent trolls can use any tactic to force you into submission. It is important to be aware of their designs and ready with countermeasures. Patent trolls are averse to a strong and prepared target who can be difficult to take down. Therefore, present a strong front to the troll by being prepared for anything that comes your way. 


The above points are just a general guiding light when faced with demands from a patent troll. Always consult an attorney to design a strategy that is tailor-made for your case. Remember, it is not difficult to win against patent trolls if you approach the problem in the right manner.  

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