FTC Will 'Troll' for Patent Assertion Entities

Will Seek Info from Companies That Buy Patents to Enforce Them

The Federal Trade Commission has voted 4-0 to collect information from about 25 Patent Assertion Entities, or so-called "patent trolls."

After it collects comment on that proposal, it plans to compel information from the companies in an effort to "better understand how they impact innovation and competition." PAE's buy patents and then attempt to enforce them against companies already using the patented technologies.

With PAE litigation on the rise, according to the FTC, it is important to get a better handle on how PAE's operate. The FTC pointed out that studies to date have relied primarily on public data, but that it has the authority to collect non-public data, including "licensing agreements, patent acquisition information, and cost and revenue data," which could shine a stronger light on PAE practices.

To compare those practices with patent protection activity by other patent owners, the FTC also plans to seek info from more than a dozen entities asserting patents in the wireless communications sector.