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So-called patent trolls have a bad reputation.Alleged trolls, more politely called non-practicing entities (NPEs), make most of their money from licensing patents or suing companies or both.
NPEs might also invest in research and development but rarely make anything.
But alleged patent trolls say they actually encourage innovation, either by helping smaller companies make money from their patents or by developing new technologies themselves.
Paul Ryan, CEO of accused troll Acacia Technologies, told Business Insider his company helps small-time inventors get paid for their creations.
Acacia often partners with tiny companies and lone inventors so they can licence their technology to tech giants like IBM, Microsoft, and Toshiba.
“Until we came along, most small entities were really frozen out of the market,” Ryan told BI. “As more manufacturing gets outsourced, the real value in products is the technology.”
Other alleged trolls develop their own technology while making money from patents.
“Patents are an important part of any society where a future is going to rely on innovation,” InterDigital CEO William Merritt told BI. “We licence the technologies to people who are much more equipped at putting it inside a box and getting it on the shelf at Best Buy.”
Like most accused patent trolls, Notthaft wrote, the nation’s most important inventors like Thomas Edison licensed most of their technology instead of commercializing it themselves.
“Was Thomas Edison a patent troll?” Notthaft asked.
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