This week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will announce plans to start an investigation into the questionable practices employed by patent trolls, according to a New York Times report. The investigation will be announced at a conference headed up by FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez. The investigation into patent trolls, or "patent assertion entities" (PAEs) as the FTC has named them, will follow other anti-patent trolling actions this year, like President Obama's report on patent issues and five different anti-patent-troll bills introduced in Congress so far this year.
The FTC investigation will be a 6(b) study, named after the section of the FTC Act that gives the commission the authority to conduct such a study. The initiative is not criminal investigation, but the FTC will have the ability to use subpoena powers to do things that private litigants in patent cases and activist groups can't do like following money to find out how much the trolls are making and where it is going.
The study will not make information about individual patent-trolling companies available to the public either. Instead, the FTC will aggregate the information and put it together in a report.
The investigation was called for by several companies including Google, Earthlink, Red Hat, and other tech companies in public comments to the FTC earlier in the year, and at least two commissioners said that they favored conducting such an investigation.
We will have more on this story as it develops.
Source: Ars Technica