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Trolling Effects: New Web Resource Launched to Shine Light on Patent Trolls

PRESS RELEASE
July 31, 2013
Coalition Led by Electronic Frontier Foundation Crowdsources Demand Letters

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of organizations and law schools today launched the newest tool in the fight against patent trolls: Trolling Effects (trollingeffects.org). The online resource aims to unite and empower would-be victims of patent trolls through a crowdsourced database of demand letters and to serve as a clearinghouse of information on the troll epidemic.

"Patent trolls will no longer be able to hide under a cloak of legal darkness," EFF Activist Adi Kamdar said. "Trolling Effects will shine a light on companies that abuse the patent system to shake down innovators."

Patent trolls use the threat of expensive and lengthy patent litigation to extort settlements from innovators large and small. Because the majority of these threats never become lawsuits, most of the threatening letters never show up in public dockets.

In June, the White House joined calls from Congress for more transparency around demand letters. Trolling Effects aims to provide that transparency. The site will allow demand-letter recipients to post the documents online, find letters received by others, and research who is really behind the threats. The site also features comprehensive guides to the patent system and a blueprint for patent reform. Journalists, academics, and policy makers will find the site a one-stop resource for researching the patent system.

"Trolling Effects began with the idea that people need to come together to defeat patent trolls," said EFF Staff Attorney Julie Samuels, who also holds the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. "Innovators who previously would have had to face the troll threat alone can use this new collaborative tool to share information and intelligence."

Other members of the Trolling Effects coalition include: Application Developers Alliance, Ask Patents, Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU School of Law, Engine Advocacy, Public Knowledge, PUBPAT, and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at Berkeley Law.

Trolling Effects is one of several ways EFF is combating the troll plague on the U.S. patent system. Currently, EFF is collecting information on legislative proposals as part of its Defend Innovation project and will publish a report later this year. EFF also recently launched an effort to challenge patents held by Personal Audio, a notorious patent troll that has been shaking down podcasters across the country.

"The tide is turning on patent trolls," said EFF Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer. "The more people learn about their business practices, the more pressure we're able to put on them. It's time to shut down this business model once and for all."

Contacts:

Adi Kamdar
Activist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
adi@eff.org

Julie Samuels
Staff Attorney and The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents
Electronic Frontier Foundation
julie@eff.org

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