PATENT “TROLLING” CONCERNS
According to an article by Kris Graft for Next-Gen.Biz, “patent trolling,” where companies come up with vague ideas and patent them, just so they can litigate against anyone else that actually puts these ideas into motion, is becoming a significant source of income for these businesses.
A good example of patent trolling is the American Video Graphics case, which involved a 3D spherical panning method patent. In this case, the owner of the patent is not practicing the patent. It is an old patent that is intrinsic to what occurs in a videogame. As such, it is impossible for anyone else to develop a game and avoid this patent. When they try, they are then sued by the patent holder.
Since most of these cases are settled, the patents are never brought under judicial scrutiny, and thus remain intact, perpetuating the cycle.
This seems to go against the intentions of the patent system, which strives to encourage inventiveness. The problem with the method patents is that descriptions of undeveloped processes are being patented by the United States Patent & Trademark Office just because they are thought about. Anyone else coming up with the same results, regardless of what method they employ, is seen as an infringer and subject to litigation.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding patents, infringement, and other intellectual property issues, I suggest you consult with a patent attorney to better assist you with these complex issues.