Legal Intern, Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy
It looks like the federal government is getting ready to launch itself firmly into the debate over patent trolls. The Manhattan Institute recently released a report that focused on the nature and practice of these so-called "patent trolls," or companies that frequently exist for the express purpose of acquiring large patent portfolios and suing companies that infringe for licensing fees. The Federal Trade Commission recently announced that it would begin a process of further inquiry by using its subpoena power to call 25 Patent Assertion Entities and 15 device/software manufacturing companies. The stated aim of the inquiry is to better understand the logistical framework of patent trolls and the manner in which accrued capital is distributed. It will be interesting to see if this investigation simply serves to satisfy procedural formalities or actually leads to substantive policy action down the road.