We’ve all encountered trolls in online comments and message boards. Usually, it’s best to ignore their absurd and risible statements. Eventually, they’ll return to the underside of their bridge or their mother’s basement. However, some trolls are more insidious and can cost your business valuable time and money.
Patent trolls are known for acquiring intellectual property (IP) rights, not to use them as intended, but as a cudgel against other businesses. They do so by making infringement claims at every available opportunity.
Look for red flags
It’s not uncommon for a business to receive a cease and desist letter from another competitor or other legitimate companies. There are numerous ways to resolve a legitimate property infringement claim effectively. However, the approach is different if you’re dealing with a troll. That’s why it’s important to look for red flags that can help you determine whether an infringement claim is legitimate.
Do some research on the company. Do they appear to actually make anything? You should also review the letter for abusive language or outlandish claims of protection. In addition, a legitimate letter should address your business directly and point out where it believes a violation has occurred. Trolls may often use a template to cast as wide a net as possible. Any of the above should arouse your suspicions.
A cease and desist letter can be anxiety-inducing, especially if you are a small business owner. You can take several steps if you find yourself on the receiving end of such a letter. You could agree to put an end to the perceived infringement. You could offer a settlement. You could contest the claims, or you could simply choose to ignore the letter.
Whether you’re dealing with a legitimate company or an IP troll, it’s crucial that you weigh all of your options before deciding how to proceed. A skilled legal professional can provide you with the information you need to make the best decision going forward.