Apple, Google, Samsung Push for Patent Troll Reform in EU

Sometimes-rivals Apple, Google and Samsung have banded together in Europe in hopes of bringing patent trolls and their abuse of the court system under control. 19 companies have signed a letter asking the European Union to take action to limit the ability of companies that hold patents as their sole source of income from using the legal system to essentially extort money out of other businesses.

Tech companies ask EU to curb patent troll powersTech companies ask EU to curb patent troll powers

The companies are asking the EU to create guidance for the member state's courts so they're prepared to know when injunctions are appropriate, and how to better determine a patent's validity. "Without this guidance, the potential exists for a court to order an injunction prohibiting the importation and sale of goods even though the patent may ultimately be found invalid," the companies said in their letter, according to Bloomberg.

Patent trolls are companies that collect patents so they can then use their portfolios to generate revenue. They typically demand money from companies over patent infringement claims and often file lawsuits in hopes of pressuring a payout.

Apple is involved in a series of mobile device patent infringement lawsuits against Samsung, and is indirectly targeting Google's Android OS in the process. Despite the court room friction between the companies, they all see the value in finding a way to cut down on the frivolous lawsuits patent trolls file.

Currently, there isn't much to stop patent trolls from filing lawsuits to pressure licensing payouts on questionable patents. The cases not only bog down court dockets, but also cost companies millions of dollars regardless of whether or not they actually end up in front of a judge.

The EU is looking into creating a patent-specific court as part of a move to a unified patent system for all the member states, which should make it easier to manage patent cases across borders. Assuming Apple, Samsung, Google and the other companies pushing for changes get what they want, the EU patent system will likely make it easier to identify companies abusing the system and cut down on the threat of injunctions issued for patents that are ultimately deemed invalid.