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Non-practicing entities (patent trolls), backed by third parties, operate in Germany

To the extent third parties see litigation as a profitable investment, lawyers in legal departments will face more litigation. Having written about one manifestation of this, so-called patent trolls in the US, it interested me to run across an example of a non-practicing entity (NPE) in Germany (See my post of Jan. 20, 2006: “trolls” drive up litigation fees and in-house patent costs; Oct. 29, 2006: Qualcomm’s business model; May 13, 2007: Microsoft’s litigation against patent trolls; and June 25, 2008: advice against troll litigation.).

A German NPE, IPCom has recently filed claims across Europe against Nokia, according to the European Lawyer, Issue 91, Nov./Dec. 2009 at 29. IPCom “is owned by one of Germany’s preeminent intellectual-property lawyers, Bernard Frohwitter, as well as German packaging and logistics company Schoeller Group and the Fortress Investment group, a New York-based private equity and hedge fund.” Quite a pedigree. Serious players with deep pockets and long-term resolve make for disquieting prospects for in-house litigation managers.