Well, look who finally showed up to the patent party! The Federal Trade Commission announced on Friday that it has opened an inquiry into "patent assertion entities," a.k.a. patent trolls. Start popping some popcorn, folks. This could get good.
To be specific, the F.T.C. voted unanimously to seek public comments on an investigation into "approximately 25 companies that are in the business of buying and asserting patents." This is terrific news because these kinds of companies are a scourge upon the Earth, engaged in the filthy business of hoarding patents and then threatening innovative companies to pay up or get sued for infringing on said patents. These 25 companies were responsible for 60 percent of the 4,000 patent litigation lawsuits last year. The number of patent litigation lawsuits alone rose 70 percent from 2004 to 2009. If the F.T.C.'s investigation finds evidence of malfeasance, it could launch a series of antitrust lawsuits against the patent trolls.