Apple, along with Silicon Valley technology giants Google, Yahoo, Intel, Cisco and Facebook, is going after patent trolls – that is, companies whose only “products” are patents bought solely as a litigation weapon against others who actually use them in their own products.

Apple and others are now asking the United States Supreme Court to allow stiffer penalties for patent trolls who bring frivolous lawsuits, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

Apple has a backlog of over 200 pending patent cases, most of them frivolous claims, and in every one of such lawsuits the company has been forced to bear its legal fees…

Bloomberg writes that a total of fourteen Silicon Valley companies told the justices that patent trolls have an unfair advantage because “they don’t make products of their own”, leaving them effectively immune from countersuits.

The least the Supreme Court could do is permit technology companies to collect attorneys’ fees from patent-holders who lose infringement suits. The justices are said to consider the rules that govern fee awards in patent litigation later this month.

Patent trolls targeted Apple and Google more than 190 times each in the past five years. In 2012 alone, more than an astounding 100,000 companies were sued by patent-assertion entities, as they’re calling patent trolls these days.

“Apple has rarely lost on the merits,” the company said in court papers. “But victory figures as small consolation because in every one of these cases, Apple has been forced to bear its legal fees.”

Apple told the justices that the company faces 228 unresolved patent claims and employs two attorneys just to respond to letters that demand royalties. The iPad maker, based in Cupertino, California, says it has been sued 92 times by patent-assertion entities in the last three years, settling 51 cases, with most of the rest pending.

Another factoid: nearly one-fifth of all patent lawsuits from 2007 to 2011 were filed by trolling firms. While not all of these claims were frivolous, the vast majority indeed were.

Case in point: a German patent troll is throwing a $2+ billion claim against Apple over the use of a standards-essential wireless patent covering an emergency wireless service technology that’s required by law.

The iPhone maker says that for every case that reaches court it gets “dozens of letters demanding royalties”.

I’m interested to hear how you’d reform the patent system to prevent abuse.

  • Jonathan

    I never liked that photo. 0_o

  • Christopher

    If you own a patent, it’s your right to protect it whether you are using it in a product or not. All this amounts to is bullying by the big guys because they want what they have no right to have. Bunch of fckbags.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Wrong. While if you own a patent you do have the right to defend it you forget that many people are awarded patents and trademarks for things they shouldn’t. These people usually have a large patent portfolio but do nothing with the patents they have and use them only to sue other companies (another words they’re a patent troll). Someone seriously needs to do something about patent trolls so I applaud the efforts Apple is going to and hope that them and the so called other ‘tech titans’ prevail in their quest to banish patent trolls under a bridge where they belong.

      • Sandy Cook

        Things you shouldn’t… Like rounded rectangles

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        True. Apple don’t claim to have invented the rounded rectangle though they just claim to be the inventors of the design of the iPad:

        “The ornamental design for a portable display device, as shown and described.”

        Source: google .com/patents/USD670286

      • And which tablet doesn’t look like that from the front? They didn’t outright claim, but that’s exactly what is implied/defined by their generic patent…the only resemblance of the galaxy tab has to that iPad portray is that it’s rectangular, yet Apple sued Samsung for that, what excuse do you have this time?

      • Your Mother

        on top of it all, Samsung was making tablets years before apple.

      • I. Silencio

        As if a sheet of paper can have so many different shapes.