What is a Patent Troll?

The term patent troll has been defined in recent years as a person (or company) who will obtain a patent for a product or process which they have no intention of manufacturing, all to allow them to wait for a similar patent to be issued and therefore allow them to carry out an infringement action.  More details are found here.  Patent trolls will demand payments after assessing the intellectual property rights of other publications.

An artistic portrayal of a patent troll
The activities of the company Lodsys shows all the signs of patent trolling.  Lodsys, a company holding many patents, started to send letters to iOS developers that used in-app purchasing, accusing them of infringing their US patent #772,078, “Methods and systems for gathering information from units of a commodity across a network,” and gave the option of paying a license fee or face a lengthy lawsuit.  Apple responded with a letter from their senior vice president insisting that Apple’s license to the patent in question covers third party developers and suggested Lodsys should stop threatening iOS developers.  The Finnish games company responsible for Angry Birds has also been accused of violation of the same Lodsys patent, preventing a launch of the app in the US.