The article begins with a discussion of the suit between RIM and NTP, and some background on NTP, and then goes on to discuss patent holding companies, or patent trolls, in general.
The whole article is worth a read, but there are a few interesting excerpts:
There have long been companies organized solely around pressing patent rights. Henry Ford required a prolonged legal battle to successfully fight a holding company that claimed patent rights over all automobiles with internal combustion engines in 1911. . . .And after highlighting the USPTO's recent rejection of a key patent involved in the NTP, RIM lawsuit, the NY Times ends with a quote from Donald E. Stout, founder of NTP:
"Before the Federal Circuit, patents weren't worth much," said Thomas L. Creel, a lawyer with the firm of Goodwin Procter in New York. "Patents have now become a piece of property that is very valuable." . . .
Challenging patent licensing companies is not a common strategy . . . . "The philosophy in many companies is that litigation is not only expensive, it's disruptive," Mr. Creel said. "Most people are willing to pay rather than fight. It's in effect a tax on doing business."
Mr. Stout is quick to reject suggestions that the . . . patent holding business is a less-than-desirable line of work.
"Those who criticize, they think that unless you make products, you aren't entitled to having rights," he said. "That's just not so."