Professor Richard Epstein has published an article on the controversial issue of "patent trolls," companies that buy up patent rights in order to litigate against parties they say infringe on those rights. Patent trolling has come under great scrutiny in recent years, and was attacked in a recent White House Task Force report.
Epstein argues that patent trolling is often a viable and even integral part of the economy:
In this case, it would be a terrible mistake of patent policy to insist that the only firms that should be entitled to enforce patents are those that are actually in the business of making tangible products with their patented technologies. Of course, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with savvy full-service firms taking this approach. After all, their routine business activities could easily generate new ideas for patentable inventions that the firm could then exploit synergistically through its own research arm. But by the same token, there is much to be said for an alternative business model in which specialization takes place along a different axis.
The entire article can be read here.