patent troll

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Disparaging term for a person or company that hoards patents for the purpose of threatening alleged infringers with legal action. Usually, the patent troll holds patents that are vague and ambiguous and seeks to enforce patent rights extending beyond the patent’s actual value or contribution to the prior art. Patent trolls typically do not manufacture the products for which they hold patents, earning their income primarily from the settlements that they receive from the people or companies that they have threatened.

Patent-holding companies (PHC), patent assertion entities (PAE), and non-practicing entities (NPE) are often pejoratively classified as patent trolls, though not all of these entities are patent trolls in every case.

[Last updated in August of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]