Patenting Patent Trolling:

As many of you know, "patent trolls" are parties that buy up issued patents for the sole purpose of using the patents offensively to collect licensing fees (or, failing that, to sue for infringement) from 3d parties. There's been lots of writing about the phenomenon over the past several years and about what it says about the (sorry) state of our current patent system.

In a new wrinkle, it appears that Halliburton, Inc., has filed a patent application claiming a patent for the process of patent trolling! Pretty cheeky!!

Here's the actual application at the PTO website. According to the WSJ law blog, Halliburton claims that it does not intend to "apply the technique offensively" -- i.e., it's not trying to monopolize the business of patent trolling -- but rather it "intends to use any patent that may issue from this application defensively to discourage entities that engage in such tactics."

There is, incidentally, approximately 0% chance that the patent will be granted. For one thing, it's very hard to see how Halliburton would establish that is has come up with a "novel" process (as required for the issuance of a patent), and in any event, the recent decision by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in In re Bilski almost certainly renders inventions like this one (and other "business method" patents the PTO has been handing out in recent years) unpatentable. [In Bilski, the court held that a process is "patent-eligible" if "(1) it is tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or thing." Hard to see how patent trolling methods fit the bill . . .

[More commentary on this patent filing is here at and patently-o]