According to Troll Tracker, the anonymous blogger with the bounty on his head, while the number of patent cases has not increased much from 2006 to 2007, the number of actual defendants in those cases has increased significantly during than period. Troll Tracker attributes to this increase to Patent Trolls running rampant in our court system.
Patent trolls are patent holders that do no make any actual products. Instead, Patent Trolls derive income by suing others on patents purchased from third parties. According to Troll Tracker, the increase in the overall number of patent infringements is disproportionately due to suits by patent trolls. Troll Tracker estimates that in the busiest patent court in the country, The Eastern District of Texas, Patent Trolls account for about 40% of the patent cases filed.
Patent troll cases are particularly important as they are the primary motivation behind those attempting to overhaul the patent system. Rather than merely limiting patent trolls, the new patent rules throw the baby out with the bathwater. In addition to limiting patent trolls, the new patent rules hinder the ability of smaller inventors to obtain and enforce patents. Thankfully, the courts have stopped the Patent Office from enforcing these Draconian rules against small inventors. Unfortunately, if the number of patent troll cases continues to increase, the courts may not be able to stop Congress from legislating the anti-small inventor rules the Patent Office appears determined to enforce.