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Attorney General Herring's Patent Troll Unit

Homepage Patent System Patent Resources Patent Trolling FAQs Report a Patent Troll Contact Us

General Information

The United States Constitution gives Congress the power “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The federal patent laws enacted by Congress protect any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. The patent laws foster innovation by offering the inventor the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing an invention for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.

To obtain patent protection, an inventor must file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), the agency responsible for the examination of patent applications and the issuance of patents on behalf of the United States government. During the patent application process, the USPTO determines whether the patent application and the invention satisfy the statutorily prescribed patentability requirements. If allowable, the USPTO will send a Notice of Allowance and, after the applicant pays the issue fee and publication fee, grant a patent.

The issued patent gives the owner the right to prevent others from using the invention for a limited time. The patent claims define the scope of the invention. When another person practices (i.e., makes, uses, sells, offers to sell, or imports) a patented invention without the patent owner’s permission, the patent owner may file a civil action for patent infringement, which may result in the award of an injunction, damages, or other remedies.

For more information about the patent system, please click here to view a brief video on patents created by the Federal Judicial Center.

Patent Statutes and Rules

You may click on the links below to view the federal patent laws and regulations, and the Virginia law prohibiting bad faith assertions of patent infringement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Attorney General Herring's Patent Troll Unit

Homepage Patent System Patent Resources Patent Trolling FAQs Report a Patent Troll Contact Us

Patent trolls commonly target businesses and individuals unfamiliar with the complexities of patent law and infringement litigation. Even for those familiar with it, the ever-evolving state of patent law makes it a difficult terrain to navigate. A number of government and private sector organizations provide helpful information, tools, and resources to inventors and businesses facing a patent troll.

The links on this page will direct you to external websites that offer services or information that you may find helpful.

Attorney Referral Resources

  • USPTO Patent Attorney/Agent Search – Directory (including contact information) for attorneys and agents licensed to practice before the USPTO.
  • Virginia Lawyer Referral Service – A service of the Virginia State Bar that can connect you with qualified, competent, and fully licensed practitioners in the appropriate legal area.

Federal Government (including USPTO) Resources

Private Sector Resources

  • Google Patents – A user-friendly and flexible search engine that provides information about issued patents and patent applications.
  • Docket Navigator – Provides information about a patent’s litigation history including the number of cases, a list of companies who have asserted the patent, the number of monetary awards and injunctions, and any prior claim constructions.
  • Lex Machina – Provides demand letter analytics to help you better understand the demand letter you received and make an informed decision about how to respond.
  • RPXCorp – Provides patent market information and allows users to search for patents, litigation cases, and entities associated with a patent.
  • Legal Information Institute – A legal research tool with an extensive collection of federal, state, and international laws, regulations, and procedural rules.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation – A digital rights group working to defend innovation that provides information about patent reform and offers a searchable database of demand letters.

Note: While the majority of these organizations provide free resources, please note that some organizations may charge a fee for certain services or information.

Disclaimer: Providing links to these resources does not constitute legal advice and use of these resources should not replace consultation with an attorney familiar with patent law. The Office of the Attorney General provides links to these resources for informational purposes only—the Office of the Attorney General does not endorse, recommend, or favor any specific organization, attorney, law firm, or corporation. The Office of the Attorney General reserves the right to remove any link, add links to additional resources, or make changes to the list of resources at any time without notice.

 

 

 

 

 

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Attorney General Herring's Patent Troll Unit

Homepage Patent System Patent Resources Patent Trolling FAQs Report a Patent Troll Contact Us

 

Attorney General Mark Herring Virginia businesses foster economic growth and drive innovation in the Commonwealth. In recent years, however, high-tech businesses, Main Street businesses, and everything in between have become frequent targets of “patent trolls” who send bad faith demand letters, request unjustified licensing fees, and threaten baseless lawsuits. Unchecked, patent trolls and their bad faith practices stifle innovation in the Commonwealth, have a negative impact on our innovation-driven economy, and tie up the courts.

In 2014, recognizing that the patent troll problem needed a legislative remedy, Attorney General Herring helped craft and broker compromise legislation to combat patent trolls and their bad faith practices. With broad, bipartisan support of legislators and stakeholders, this legislation became Va. Code §§ 59.1-215.1 to -215.4, which prohibits bad faith assertions of patent infringement.

Attorney General Herring established the Patent Troll Unit to investigate and prosecute violations of the Virginia law prohibiting bad faith assertions of patent infringement. The Patent Troll Unit also provides Virginians with information about patent trolling and tips for identifying patent trolls. Through these educational, investigative, and enforcement efforts, Attorney General Herring and the Patent Troll Unit hope to protect Virginians from truly bad faith assertions of patent infringement and create an environment that is inhospitable to patent trolls.

On this website you can find information about the patent system, learn more about patent trolling, access helpful patent resources, find answers to frequently asked questions about patent trolling, and report a patent troll to the Patent Troll Unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Attorney General Herring's Patent Troll Unit

Homepage Patent System Patent Resources Patent Trolling FAQs Report a Patent Troll Contact Us

 

Photo of back side of the Office of the Attorney General buildingIf you have questions about bad faith assertions of patent infringement or want additional information about patent trolls, you may email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call us at (804) 786-2071, or send a fax to (804) 692-1647.

You may also write to the Office of the Attorney General at:

  • Patent Troll Unit
  • Office of the Attorney General
  • 202 North Ninth Street
  • Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

 

 

 

 

 
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To report a potential instance of patent trolling, you may (1) complete the Online Patent Troll Complaint (below) or (2) download the Patent Troll Complaint and, once completed, return it to the Patent Troll Unit by mail or fax.

Please complete complaint forms as accurately as possible. If you have questions or need assistance completing a complaint, you may email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at (804) 786-2071.

Before you begin the Online Patent Troll Complaint, please have any supporting documents ready to upload.

Note: Please do not leave this page before clicking on the "Submit" button. You will lose all progress if you leave this page before submitting your complaint.

Online Patent Troll Complaint

Section 1 - Contact Information
Your Contact Information
Alleged Patent Troll's Contact Information
Section 2 - Complaint

Note: As used in this Section, a "demand letter" is any letter, email, or other communication asserting, alleging, or claiming that you have engaged in patent infringement or that you should obtain a license to a patent in order to avoid litigation.

Section 3 - Additional Documentation

Please click the folder to upload demand letters and other supporting documents. 
Note: To select multiple documents hold down the Crtl key and click each item you wish to select.

Section 4 - Subsequent Actions
Section 5 - Additional Details

In the box below, you may provide additional details that you believe will assist the Patent Troll Unit in evaluating your complaint.

Section 6 - Disclaimers
  • By submitting this Online Patent Troll Complaint, you authorize the Office of the Attorney General and the Patent Troll Unit to evaluate your complaint on the basis of the information provided, to contact you, and to take whatever lawful actions deemed appropriate to resolve your complaint.

  • The Office of the Attorney General shall keep all closed complaints, including evidence, testimony, documents, and other results of investigations, on file until such materials are destroyed in accordance with established procedures for destroying public records. Closed complaints are subject to public disclosure under the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Va. Code §§ 2.2-3700 to -3714). For this reason, we ask that you do not provide your Social Security Number or any personal financial information not related to your complaint.

  • The Office of the Attorney General is not authorized to provide legal advice or representation to individual businesses or citizens. You acknowledge and understand that submitting this complaint does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Office of the Attorney General.


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