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Patent trolling to go under anti-trust spotlight

Report says hearings set for December, with Nokia and Cisco to appear

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America’s Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are to take a look at whether patent trolls are breaching US anti-trust laws.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting (paywalled) that the process will be kicked off by informal hearings in December. That report claims that Cisco and Nokia have confirmed they will attend the hearings.

Cisco’s position on patent trolls became crystal clear in October, when the networking giant accused NPE Innovatio of “racketeering” for its strategy of suing WiFi users over patent infringement.

The hearings would promise to be more than a little tense, in that case, since Intellectual Ventures Management (founded by ex-Microsoftie Nathan Myhrvold) will be along to defend the patent trolls’ non-practising entities’ (NPEs’) position.

Earlier this year, IVM was identified as a true giant in the NPE world, ranking as perhaps the fifth-largest patent-holder in America. The Stanford University study, The Giant Among Us, described the escalation strategy it follows: offer targets a chance to settle with Intellectual Ventures Management, and if rebuffed, find yourself in the cross-hairs of a more litigious sub-licensee. ®

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