Over the last five years, no technology company has been sued bymore non-practicing entities over alleged patent infringement thanApple. The tally of tech companies being "pursued" by non-practicingentities has been tracked by the group PatentFreedom. By their tally, Apple andHewlett-Packard are tied with 131 lawsuits filed against them since2007. In more recent years, as Apple has grown to become by far the largest technology company in the world and most valuable corporation in America, no one hasbeen sued as many times as Apple. In the three-year span from 2009to the end of 2011, Apple faced a dozen more lawsuits from "NPE"groups than PC maker HP, making it currently the most-sued in theindustry. |
"Patent trolls," as they're commonly known on the Internet, arereferred to by PatentFreedom as "NPEs." The group feels the term"patent troll" is "unhelpful," as it is frequently used to refer toindividuals or corporate entities who wish to enforce their patentrights. PatentFreedom, however, draws a distinction by defining certaingroups as "non-practicing entities." To them, an NPE is "any entitythat earns or plans to earn the majority of its revenue from thelicensing or enforcement of its intellectual property." That means companies like Samsung, Motorola and HTC, which havelodged their own patent infringement complaints against Apple, do not qualify as NPEs. Instead, companies like Lodsys Group LLC and Graphics Property Holdings Inc. , which derive most revenue from licensing or enforcing patentedtechnologies, would fall under that umbrella.
The data also shows that the number of lawsuits filed by NPEsagainst the top the top technology companies has been growing.While Apple saw just 12 lawsuits from NPEs in 2007, another 42 werefiled in 2011 alone. HP also saw NPE lawsuits against it doublefrom 15 in 2007 to 30 in 2011. The PatentFreedom numbers show that Apple and HP have been themost-sued technology companies by NPEs since 2007, while Samsungcame in third with 105 complaints lodged against it. In fourth isAT&T with 102 lawsuits, while Sony took fifth with 100 over thelast five years.
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