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Non-practicing entities (NPE), sometimes called “patent trolls,” act very much like their legendary namesakes. Like trolls of ancient Norse legend — and the modern-day Internet variety — they are “seldom helpful or friendly,” and instead leech off the good efforts of others.

An NPE holds a patent for a product or process but has no intentions of developing it. NPEs acquire patents, sometimes in mass quantities, identify companies that could be infringing on them, and bring legal action to generate a settlement.

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