Poll: Most voters unaware of patent trolls

Poll: Most voters unaware of patent trolls

Three-quarters of registered voters are unable to correctly identify a patent troll, according to a Morning Consult poll. 

The survey released Friday found 45 percent of people did not know or had no opinion of the definition. Another 30 percent of people picked an incorrect answer when given a list of four options. 

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Twenty-five percent of registered voters picked the survey’s correct, yet broad, definition, which is “a company that sues other companies for infringing on patents they own.”

Those numbers are largely unchanged from a similar survey back in December. While the average voter is largely unaware of the issue, technology companies and retailers have made patent litigation reform a major priority for the 114th Congress. 

Both chambers have passed their respective patent reform bills through committee, which aim to reform some litigation procedures trolls exploit. Both bills contain a number of changes, including limiting early discovery, requiring greater detail in initial pleadings, and imposing a fee shifting requirement on the losers of frivolous litigation. 

During the debate many lawmakers have avoided using the term “patent troll” or defining it. Rather they say the reforms aim to crack down on a certain type of abusive behavior rather than any particular industry or company. 

The term is sometimes interchangeable with a “patent assertion entity,” which is a company that does not manufacture any products from the patents they own, and instead makes money from collecting fees of settlements from others who might be infringing on their patents. 

As the Congressional Research Service points out, “The term “troll” is controversial because it is both pejorative and ambiguous, often used imprecisely for any opportunistic or unpopular patent holder.”

The survey polled 2,906 registered voters from June 5-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.