George Selden: A Patent Troll

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Patent Troll

Introduction (Kirubael)

The word "Troll" represents individuals who like to cause problems, arguments, or just make people upset. A Patent troll is a term applied to a company or person who is trying to "enforce patent rights against accused infringer's in an attempt to collect licensing fees but do not manufacture the supply" (1). The main function of a patent troll is not to produce or sell items but just to convince third parties to purchase a license. There are two main types of people who use patent trolls, innovators and producers. An innovators goal when using a patent troll is mainly to just obtain a patent that it can use to get licensing money. The Producers goal for using a patent troll is to not include the ones who
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George Selden (1846–1922), a patent attorney, expressly set out to be a patent troll. In 1879, Selden filed a patent application for a “road engine.” Selden purposely delayed the issuance of his patent for the next 16 years while he waited for others to develop practical automobile engine technology and automobile-making companies. When he felt the time was right, Selden had his patent issue in 1895. Selden then threatened suit against the automobile makers and had licensing success through his holding company, the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. However, there was one major holdout - Henry Ford. Ford issued its own notice to counter that of Selden. Selden took Ford to court. The court stated that Selden “acted within his rights,” however and that he “merely took advantage of delays which the law permitted him.” As such, the court stated that Selden’s patent “must be viewed without prejudice and with absolute judicial impartiality.” Ford asserted the defenses of invalidity and non-infringement. The court held that Selden’s patent was valid over the prior art, which included two well-defined types of compression gas engines, that is, the two-stroke “Brayton” engine and the four-stroke “Otto” engine. Turning to the question of infringement, the court found that Ford’s autos having Otto-type engines did not infringe the Selden patent, which disclosed autos having only modified Brayton-type engines …show more content…
In March of 1876, Bell received his patent for a communication device for “transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically.” A little-known fact is that in 1877 the owners of the Bell telephone patent offered to sell it to Western Union for $100,000. By the time Western Union realized its mistake and offered millions for the patent, Bell Telephone Company was in competition with the Western Union and had sued Western Union for infringement. In November 1879, rather than risk losing in court, Western Union agreed to settle the infringement suit. Specifically, Western Union agreed to withdraw from the telephone business for the duration of the Bell patents and to sell its 56,000 telephones to Bell’s company. Bell’s company agreed to not enter the telegraph business and to pay Western Union 20 percent of all royalties paid under its former license contracts

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