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The IT industry suffers disproportionately from patent trolling, and many – including President Obama – have called for change.
Two weeks ago a US company few people had heard of, called Virnet X, was awarded $625.6m by a court in East Texas, when a jury found that Apple had infringed four of its patents.
Virnet X has a staff of 14 people, while Apple posts a quarterly net profit of several billion – but the predominant reaction online was one of disgust at a broken system and amazement that a jury could return such a verdict.
"The overall trend suggests that judges in the Eastern District of Texas are applying [the Alice case] in a way that's far more favourable to patent owners," says Daniel Nazer, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Another theory is that jurors in this part of the world are more likely to line up behind David in any David vs Goliath contest; in other words, in the case of Apple vs Virnet X, Apple wouldn't stand a chance.
Kendall Larsen, Virnet X CEO and President, said, simply: "We are extremely pleased with the jury verdict....
The jury agreed once again that Apple has been using the technology developed by our inventors." Apple, meanwhile, have called it a mistrial.
In Virginia, for example, a new Patent Troll Unit is seeking to penalise companies making unjust patent claims.
"There are also legislative measures being taken, such as how you calculate damages," says Davies.
Because the little guy is a 'patent troll', stifling innovation by abusing the system, says Rhodri Marsden For some, it was a glorious piece of news.