DOJ: News Release

Attorney General Fox Supports Proposed Nationwide Investigation of Patent Trolls

Attorney General Fox Supports Proposed Nationwide Investigation of Patent Trolls

Attorney General Tim Fox today announced Montana joined 42 other attorneys general in submitting a letter to the Secretary of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voicing strong support for the federal agency’s proposed nationwide investigation of patent trolls.

“Patent trolls generally acquire patents solely for the purpose of leveraging them for financial gain from parties they claim to have infringed upon the patent. They have no intention of bringing any products to market, and are a growing consumer protection problem in our country because they typically seek pretrial settlements or costly licensing fees from alleged patent infringements,” said Attorney General Fox.

Patent trolls make baseless claims of patent infringement to extract fees or settlements from consumers. They acquire patents solely for this purpose. Consumers, small businesses and non-profit agencies are often targeted because they have purchased or used off-the-shelf commercial products that rely on common, everyday technology. These products include printers, scanners or wireless routers.

In early October, the FTC announced its plan to conduct a wide-ranging investigation of known patent trolls, also known as patent assertion entities. The proposed investigation would arm consumer protection authorities with valuable intelligence as they escalate actions against abusers of the patent system.

Recently, a number of states have taken action against patent trolls whose activities run afoul of state consumer protection and unfair trade practice laws. Although much has been discovered through investigation of specific patent troll entities, the business structure and operating methods of other such entities remain unclear.

Authored by Nebraska and Vermont, the letter was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.

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