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Companies sometimes come up against a patent troll, which is a company or individual that files multiple lawsuits alleging that other companies or individuals are infringing upon its patents. Patent trolls do not often actually manufacture and/or provide the services covered by the patents they hold. They use patent law to their advantage, which can make it more difficult for Texas patent holders who have legitimate claims for infringement.

For example, a company called SimpleAir holds several patents in the technology industry. It has sued several companies for allegedly infringing on its patents regarding "push notifications" on computers and mobile devices. Companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo, among others, have been sued by SimpleAir. These companies entered into settlement agreements -- some of which are worth millions of dollars -- rather than go to court.

When SimpleAir sued Google, however, it might not have expected the search engine giant to fight the claims. The case was filed and tried in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. That court ruled in favor of SimpleAir in the amount of $85 million.

However, the Eastern District has the reputation of being friendly to patent trolls. This could be one reason why Google appealed the trial court's decision, and the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the ruling, which means that Google does not have to pay SimpleAir anything.

Patent holders who have legitimate claims against companies might find this particular case to be a win for them as well as for Google. The patent law is supposed to be there to protect the inventors whose ideas and inventions need to be recognized by anyone else that uses them. The negative connotations that surround patent trolls should not keep others from pursuing their legal remedies if it is discovered that a company or individual is unlawfully using patented material.

Source: siliconbeat.com, "Google beats back patent troll, saves $85 million", Ethan Baron, April 4, 2016

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