Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

Review of Patent Trolls: Predatory Litigation and the Smothering of Innovation by William J. Watkins, Jr.


Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 18, no. 3 (Fall 2015)

It wouldn’t be a stretch to compare patent trolls to the playground bully, initiating scare tactics to gain control and in the case of the trolls, revenue. Following Bill Shughart’s informative foreword, William Watkins packs a good amount of information into his book about patent trolls. Watkins begins by giving the reader a brief history of patent law, explaining how trolls operate, outlines problems with the current laws and court system, as well as providing some recommendations for reform. The focal points of the book are not only the trolls themselves but also the incredibly plaintiff (troll)-friendly U.S. District Court in Eastern Texas.

Watkins calls on Congress to change the rules for corporate residence, inviting the Federal Circuit to revisit how it establishes personal jurisdiction, and again calls upon Congress to investigate creating a special patent court system with professional jurors. A modernized court system, according to Watkins, would greatly reduce the (rent-seeking) behavior of trolls, reduce the incidence of litigation, and would restore the incentive to innovate back to the forefront for U.S. businesses, a key component for economic growth.


Kline, Audrey D., “Review of Patent Trolls: Predatory Litigation and the Smothering of Innovation, by William J. Watkins, Jr.,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 18, no. 3 (Fall 2015): 380–84.

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