Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Patent Trolls and the Billy Goats Gruff

Last week, the National Venture Capital Association released a study indicating one in three startups faces legal accusations of patent infringement

Earlier today, Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley visited the offices of mobile payments company LevelUp, in Boston, where founder and CEO Seth Priebatsch told her that "patent troll" lawsuits are diverting capital that could be used for business growth. He said the bigger a company gets, and the more recognition they have in the press, the more trolls start to descend upon them. Unless the law changes, it’s something he will be dealing with forever. “We will win each individual case, but your expenses now become health care, salary, real estate, and dealing with patent trolls,” he said, according to the Boston Business Journal.

Coakley, who went to LevelUp’s offices to speak to employees, likened the problem with patent trolls to the children’s fairy tale about the “Billy Goats Gruff,” crossing the bridge with a troll underneath. “It’s a barrier keeping companies from going where they want to go,” she said. “The moral of the story is, trolls are bad. We shouldn’t allow them in fairy tales, and we shouldn’t allow them in real life.”

Coakely is looking at existing state laws to see how she can help businesses keep trolls at bay. She also pledged to determine whether other legal remedies are available to technology companies like LevelUp.

@LevelUp, which spun off from an earlier company, SCVNGR , is backed by Boston Angel Joe Caruso and a number of VC funds.

If you would like to join with other Angel and VC Billygoats  writing to congress about this issue, you can find a link right here

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