How To Beat A Patent Troll
Our portfolio company Cloudflare posted yesterday about the two and a half year war it waged against a patent troll called Blackbird.
This was the battle plan that Cloudflare came up with:
After we were sued by Blackbird, we decided that we wouldn’t roll over. We decided we would do our best to turn the incentive structure on its head and make patent trolls think twice before attempting to take advantage of the system. We created Project Jengo in an effort to remove this economic asymmetry from the litigation. In our initial blog post we suggested we could level the playing field by: (i) defending ourselves vigorously against the patent lawsuit instead of rolling over and paying a licensing fee or settling, (ii) funding awards for crowdsourced prior art that could be used to invalidate any of Blackbird’s patents, not just the one asserted against Cloudflare, and (iii) asking the relevant bar associations to investigate what we considered to be Blackbird’s violations of the rules of professional conduct for attorneys.
I will give away the story in case you don’t want to go read the post. Cloudflare’s plan worked in all three ways.
It is tempting to settle with patent trolls if you can settle for less than litigation costs. Our portfolio companies do it all the time and it is rational behavior.
But patent trolls are a tax on innovation and I love it when some of our portfolio companies decide to stand up to them and fight them. Like Cloudflare did.