Apple Inc.: Fighting Patent Trolling
(6 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In February 2020, Apple Inc. (Apple) was fighting litigation by one of the oldest patent troll firms (a non-practicing entity) in the United States, VirnetX Holding Corporation (VirnetX). VirnetX targeted innovative and cash rich firms and had begun to use specific US locations with patent troll–friendly courts as major hubs for filing litigation. For targets such as Apple, this meant resources intended for innovation were wasted in fighting legal battles. In collaboration with its competitors, Apple took several initiatives, including pre-emptive litigation and appeals to both the US and the European Union governments to improve patent laws and prevent patent trolling. How could Apple’s chief executive officer encourage innovation at Apple amid patent trolling issues? What strategies should he take to fight against non-practicing entities?
This case is intended for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on creativity and innovation, business law, business strategy, or strategic management. It outlines the innovation challenges faced by firms targeted by legislation from patent trolls and highlights the strategies these firms can take to protect themselves from trolling and the role of government in preventing patent trolling by non-practicing entities. By working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Critically analyze strategies firms can take to protect themselves from patent trolling litigation by non-practicing entities.
- Explain how location influences troll companies’ tendencies to file litigation.
- Describe the traits of patent troll firms.
- Critically analyze strategies firms can take to innovate amid the challenges of patent trolling.
United States, Large, 2020
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