Intuitive Surgical and trolls
One suit against Intuitive Surgical was brought by Alisanos LLC after Medicanica – a company that retained surgical robotics patents – transferred its patent portfolio to Alisanos in a “licensing arrangement.” That agreement ensured Medcanica received a portion of any licensing fees Alisanos could extract from other companies. Alisanos itself is owned by the Medici Portfolio, a company that offers patent “monetization” services. Medici states that its “fee for advisory services is contingent on making money for the client.” In short, Medici and Alisanos make money when they propound demands on other companies for alleged patent infringement.
Undoubtedly, there are inherent benefits to having companies that aid inventors seeking compensation when their intellectual property has been infringed upon. When, however, neither the company suing nor the company for whose benefit a suit is being brought are actually producing products or services, innovative companies are harmed without benefits being provided to the public. This practice of so-called patent privateering levies tangible costs for innovators globally. Just like pirates taxing commerce with unfair attacks on the high seas, innovative companies can be sapped of their capital and their vitality by patent litigation boutiques for hire. Often, the targets do not even know which company is launching an attack and who will ultimately benefit financially.
Freedom for companies to innovate without fear of frivolous patent lawsuits helps promote healthy competition and healthy patients. Competition in this marketplace benefits consumers by driving down costs of care, and a competitive marketplace is a healthy marketplace.