An article in USA Today dicusses how IpCom, a German patent holding company sued Apple for $2 billion. A “patent troll” is a term commonly used to describe the company because of its tendency to buy patents with no intent to use them. IpCom has over 1,200 patents with no plan for them in manufacturing.
The company benefits from the license fees and royalties that result from enforcing patents. The ethical question here is deciding if IpCom’s actions are morally right. The Act Utilitarianism theory may say that the action is morally wrong because it creates more unhappiness because they are suing the company for producing a product that advances society that would not have gotten produced otherwise. While rule utilitarianism would have said they were morally right if the number one rule is something like, “do not violate the patent”.
$2 billion is a lot of money and IpCom was denied their claim. But were they morally right to sue Apple in the first place?