July 31, 2013 | By Adi Kamdar and Julie Samuels

Trolling Effects: Taking on Patent Trolls with Your Help

In the midst of a tidal wave of momentum in the fight against patent trolls, we're proud to launch Trolling Effects (trollingeffects.org), a resource to empower would-be victims of patent trolls through a crowdsourced database of patent demand letters and a clearinghouse for information on the troll epidemic. The site allows demand letter recipients to post the documents online, find letters received by others, and research who is really behind such threats. The site also features comprehensive guides to the patent system and a blueprint for patent reform.

But in order for this tool to be successful, we need your help. We need you to spread the word and help us get as many letters into the database as possible. Each new demand letter is crucial to Trolling Effects, even if a nearly identical letter has already been posted. Each one provides key insights into the patent landscape: who the bad actors are, what patents are being asserted and how often, and who's being targeted.

If you have received a patent demand letter, submit it to Trolling Effects. The site has measures built in so particular items information can remain private.

Back in June, President Obama joined key members of Congress in calling for "demand letter transparency to help curb abusive suits." Trolling Effects can help provide that transparency, which currently is all but nonexistent. A combination of trolls who send demand letters but rarely sue, scheming businesses that transfer patent ownership to shell companies, and poor record-keeping infrastructure and practices has resulted in a hazy patent system where the lack of transparency has become a competitive tool.

We're joined by a great group of partners: App 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. Together, we've created a simple tool that will take away one of the patent trolls favorite tools—secrecy.

The new site will gather information that's usually kept secret and put it to two important uses:

  1. Give those facing troll threats information about the specific threats (including who is really sending them), along with general information about patent law and the system that might help them navigate the legal process and better understand their options.
  2. Collect sorely needed data for journalists, academics, and policy makers, helping them better understand the scope of the patent troll problem and allowing them to make a better case for real reform.

Trolling Effects has the potential to be a powerful tool in the fight against patent trolls. With your participation, we can shine a light on the broken patent system.

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