Don’t Feed the Trolls

Patent trolls, also known as non-practicing entities (NPEs), are a category of companies and law firms that use patents as weapons against legitimate businesses. While inventors do have legitimate interests in licensing their intellectual property, trolls simply try to extract payments, deserved or not, from legitimate businesses.

This year Sonic was pursued by a troll who controlled a number of patents related to DSL technology. These patents were already fully licensed by the manufacturers of the DSL equipment and DSL chipsets that we utilize, but the troll hoped to “double dip” by going after end-user companies like Sonic as well, companies that simply buy and use DSL equipment. This would be akin to you buying a scanner from Xerox, who has license to any necessary patents, then finding a random law firm coming after your business just for using the Xerox scanner you purchased. Or being asked to pay a troll, because you used the WiFi router you purchased to provide Internet access to guests at your hotel.

Trolls generally hope to settle their lawsuits for a payment, so we quickly came to the conclusion that we will not feed the trolls by settling for any amount of money, no matter how small. I would much rather spend any amount on defense rather than to supply easy money to the exploitative business of a troll.

So I am please to report that we have just concluded the lawsuit against us, paying $0.00 to the troll. We would not sign a non-disclosure agreement, so we can publicly disclose that we beat this troll at their corrupt game. I encourage all companies to stand up against exploitative and illegitimate troll lawsuits: don’t be a source of easy money for trolls, no matter how small the settlement amount.