There's a troll in my space - now what?


I've spent the last 3 months full-time building an alpha version of a web app, and developing a business plan for it. The alpha version is ready to launch. Recently I've stumbled upon the fact that there's a large patent troll in the space.

I've been alarmed to see that trolls have been targeting -- and choking the roots of -- small startups (particularly after a VC investment) I'm not sure what my next move is.

The patent the troll holds is too very broad -- too broad to "build around". You know, one of those never-should-have-been-a-patent patents. So unlike a patent for, say, manufacturing a widget with Chemical A, where I could modify my widget-making process to instead use Chemical B, I feel this troll might go after us for being in the space at all.

What are the other options for a company without a legal department, to prepare for and potentially deal with trolls?

I'm willing to put in any necessary work to protect ourselves, so all suggestions welcome!

Getting Started Legal Patent Intellectual Property

asked Apr 15 '13 at 05:45
186 points
Get up to $750K in working capital to finance your business: Clarify Capital Business Loans

1 Answer


If there is a patent troll in your application space, there is no amount of work you can do to protect yourself from them. If you are doing something they think infringes on their patent, they can sue you. You will quickly find that patent law suits are unbelievably expensive. Your choice is to either fight it in court, either alone or with other affected companies, or to settle.

The patent troll will make sure that the cost to go to court is much greater than the cost to settle.

answered Apr 16 '13 at 02:03
Gary E
12,510 points
  • On the plus side, they won't go after someone until a) they notice the company and b) they think the company has enough money to make it worthwhile.. so if you make it far enough to get sued, congrats! – Casey Software 8 years ago
  • What about e.g. filing a patent of our own? Could having a distinct patent prove that the "prior art" wasn't? – Amindfv 8 years ago
  • You are proposing to get a patent on something that is **already** patented? Even if you could sneak it through the patent office, the patent troll has the money and lawyers to take you to court, sue you for infringing on their patent, and invalidate your patent. If you have prior art (predating their patent application by a year) you can spend all your money going to court to prove your work predates theirs. If you win, you get nothing except lawyers bills and the ability to keep running your company after spending $500K on lawyers. If you lose, you lose your company. – Gary E 8 years ago
  • No, no - what I'm saying is, our idea is sufficiently different to deserve its own patent. If we successfully get a patent, couldn't that stave off the threat of a patent infringement lawsuit, by demonstrating that the troll's patent is not prior art? – Amindfv 8 years ago
  • If I get a patent on using my iPod in a car, that patent doesn't invalidate the tens of thoousands of other car patents. If the patent troll thinks you are infringing on **their patent**, they will sue you. Once they sue you the case is about **their patent** not yours. – Gary E 8 years ago
  • I'd rather be sued to death that commit suicide. – Mark0978 8 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Getting Started Legal Patent Intellectual Property