When a person in Colorado creates a new product or improves upon an existing one, he or she may be given a patent. The purpose of the patent is to provide the creator the exclusive right to sell or license the product for a certain period of time. While patents are supposed to reward innovation, some have chosen to acquire patents for the sole reason of engaging in infringement litigation.
Individuals and companies that buy or otherwise acquire patents for this purpose are referred to as patent trolls. In some cases, the patents that they have in their possession don’t protect a truly novel idea or product. In one case, a jury awarded a company called HouseCanary roughly $750 million in a patent infringement case. The company claimed that a business called Amrock used its intellectual property to create a real estate valuation product.
That lawsuit was in response to a claim from Amrock that HouseCanary failed to deliver a suitable product to its agents. Therefore, the company made a similar real estate valuation tool using information that is widely available to the public. If the verdict is upheld, it could lead to businesses using the threat of lawsuits to manipulate competitors or partners. According to the Harvard Business Review, frivolous patent lawsuits cost businesses $60 billion per year.
Along with trademarks and copyrights, patents can be effective tools to protect intellectual property. If a patent is infringed upon, it may be possible to take legal action to get an infringing party to respect its validity. In some cases, it may be possible to create licensing deals or other friendly solutions to the problem. In others, it may be necessary to engage in arbitration or take a matter to court where a judge will make a ruling.