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R2IE 2013

Attarça, M. and Corbel, P. « Les stratégies d'influence au service de la protection intellectuelle : le cas de la lutte contre les patent trolls aux États-Unis », Revue Internationale d’Intelligence Economique, Vol.5, No 2, December 2013, pp. 97-111


The aim of this article, based on a study of secondary documents, is to understand the way in which companies simultaneously seek to adapt to and influence their environment. The case examined is that of patent trolls in the United States and their 'prey', large companies operating in the information technology sector. It is an emblematic case of the way in which companies can exploit a favourable legal environment, leading to a reaction aimed at changing that same legal environment, which in turn meets with resistance.
Patent trolls have developed on the basis of a business model that has been described as predatory, consisting of buying patent portfolios and suing - or threatening to sue - potential infringers (Reitzig et al., 2007, Pénin, 2010). This opportunistic business model has disrupted the legal strategies of large companies in the IT and telecommunications sectors, the main victims of patent trolls. The result has been a battle of influence strategies to influence both legislation and case law on patents.
We adopt an analytical framework based on the resource dependency approach (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978) enriched by the literature on influence strategies and, more generally, strategies based on legal resources (Bagley, 2008). We shall see that the strategies of the various players mobilise several facets of economic intelligence: legal and technological intelligence, legal strategies, strategies of influence, business models based on the possession of intellectual property rights but also of key information (companies have been formed with the aim of helping to defend themselves against patent trolls), thus forming a complex and multifaceted picture that is far removed from overly rigid models that focus solely on adaptation or on influencing the environment.

References of the abstract:

BAGLEY C.E. “Winning Legally: The Value of Legal Astuteness”, Academy of Management Review, vol.33, n°2, 2008, p.378-390.

PENIN, J. « Le problème des "patent trolls" : comment limiter la spéculation sur la propriété intellectuelle dans une économie fondée sur la connaissance », Innovations : Cahiers d’économie de l’innovation, n°32, 2010, p.35-53.

PFEFFER, J. et SALANCIK, G.R., The External Control of Organizations – A Resource Dependence Perspective, Harper & Row, 1978.

REITZIG, M., HENKEL, J. et HEATH, C. “On sharks, trolls, and their patent prey – Unrealistic damage awards and firms’ strategies of ‘being infringed’”, Research Policy, vol.36, 2007, p.134-154.


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