"But, like at many other licensing offices of other universities, a lot of the patents here sit unused. If they do get used, they don't make much money. A recent analysis by Bloomberg found that almost 90 percent of university licensing offices either lose money or just break even on their patents. So the financial pressure is on the licensing offices, says Robin Feldman, a patent expert at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Enter patent trolls. 'Patent trolls are saying to the tech transfer offices, 'There's gold there and you can find it,' ' Feldman says."
"None of this is technically illegal. In 1980, Congress passed what's known as the Bayh-Dole Act. This was a patent and trademark law legislation designed to get federally funded university research out of the academy and into the hands of companies that could create products and put them in the hands of consumers. But Feldman says patent trolls warp the purpose of the Bayh-Dole Act. 'Is this what we want public money to be spent on? Going after successful companies in a patent litigation game?' she says. 'Universities should know who they are transferring to, whom they are partnering with. And they should have policies that keep the public interest in mind.'"
"While there are no studies on how often university patents end up in the hands of patent trolls, there are other examples. Feldman cites Eolas, a company that got the rights to a patent on adding plugins to Web browsers from the University of California, San Francisco. It was a patent that the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, called "an impediment to the operation of the Web." Eolas sued dozens of companies, including Microsoft and Amazon, and won tens of millions of dollars in settlements before a Texas jury found the patent invalid in 2012."
The full piece can be viewed here.