New York MPHJ Patent Troll Settlement: First of Its Kind

Written by Tom Ewing

New York’s MPHJ patent troll settlement is the first of its kind. And it will help other states and the U.S. figure out how to deal with patent trolls. — The state of New York announces it has reached the end of its attorney general’s investigation into so-called patent trolls, companies who collect and litigate on patents without having developed or marketed tech in themselves.

We’ve been following New York’s investigations into the matter. In Dear Mr. President, I personally appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama to look deeply into the practice of patent trolling and patent privateering — and how the practice abuses the system and harms American competition.

About the settlement, the Director of the Institute of Innovation Law at the University of California Hastings College of Law Robin Feldman says:

The attorney general’s investigation focused on MPHJ’s use of deceptive and abusive tactics when it contacted hundreds of small and medium-sized New York businesses in an effort to strong-arm them into paying MPHJ for patent licenses of dubious value. The settlement resolves the attorney general’s investigations into MPHJ’s conduct and imposes requirements on MPHJ when communicating with New York businesses in the future. The requirements imposed on MPHJ in the settlement should be viewed by other patent trolls as the minimum standards that such entities seeking to contact New York businesses must follow to avoid liability for unlawful deceptive practices.”

In a statement, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said:

So-called ‘patent trolls’ exploit loopholes in the patent system and have become a scourge on the business community … they drain critical resources from small and medium-sized businesses that would otherwise be available for reinvestment and job creation, which are sorely needed across New York. State law enforcement can’t cure all the ills of the federal patent system, but the guidelines established in today’s settlement will put an end to some of the most abusive tactics by placing the industry on notice that these deceptive practices will not be tolerated in New York.”

Read the full statement and release here.

Updating. For, I’m Tom Ewing.

Based in the U.S. and Europe, Tom Ewing is an intellectual property strategist and attorney who advises the United Nations agency WIPO on patent issues, lawsuits and strategy. He also is a senior editor and a board member at