Boston University School of Law Professors James Bessen and Michael Meurer wrote an insightful article at Patently-O looking at the ten publicly listed patent trolls from 2005 until 2010, including many well known to retailers such as Acacia.  Here are some of their findings:

  • Licensing revenues for the six year period was $68B. The mean licensing revenue per defendant was $3.8M, including pre-suit settlements.
  • There was an interesting breakdown by type of troll. Middlemen trolls, such as Acacia that licensure for others made significantly less ($.7M/defendant) than research development trolls ($54M/defendant).
  • Middlemen trolls file 80% of law suits, as opposed to 6% of suits by R&D entities.
  • Very little licensing revenue flows to investors. 7% of R&D entities and 31% for middlemen entities.

What does this tell retailers?

  • It reaffirms something we already knew - troll litigation is profitable and here to stay, barring legislative action.
  • Arguments that trolls help inventory are attenuated, at least in terms of the amount of revenues inventors see from their patents.