Patent News

Jun. 30, 2016

IP Watchdog: The patent ‘troll’ fables of the automobile industry, by John Howells and Ron Katznelson, Ph.D.

This post originally appeared in IP Watchdog on June 30, 2016.

In his recent article in IPWatchdog, Toshio Nakajima lamented that the US automobile industry is beset by patent troll IP Threats so that “automakers can’t fully innovate, grow and prosper.” Nakajima illustrated those threats by first asserting that patent “troll” suits filed against automakers grew to over 100 patent lawsuits in 2014, suits that “often result in six and seven-figure settlements, and represent a serious drain on the automotive industry” (our emphasis). Second, Nakajima referenced Richard Snow’s 2013 Forbes’ magazine article entitled “The Father of All Patent Trolls,”which refers to George Selden and his early automobile patent No. 549,160. Snow writes,

“Patent trolls feed particularly voraciously on technology firms? Apple and Google are currently spending more on patent litigation than on research. The situation is strongly reminiscent of what happened a century ago, when a particularly audacious troller [the Selden patent owner] beset another new technology. The result was a years’ long lawsuit that stifled the infant automotive industry” (our emphasis).