One way to stifle competition in the technology sector is through massive intellectual property litigation. Trolling has become so successful as a plaintiff strategy that sometimes companies use the label to dramatically harm a competitor, regardless of the truth. When one cutting-edge company was branded as a patent troll, it expanded the fight to the Court of Public Opinion–and won.
Visto, a privately-held mobile messaging technology company, was pitted against Research in Motion, Microsoft and many others in multiple lawsuits throughout the world. Subtextually, the company was combating the “patent troll” stigma encouraged by RIM and others.
The goal was to brand Visto as a company that had devoted a decade to developing innovative technology and to make it very clear that it would fight to defend that technology.
After a communications campaign fought in the trenches of tech, IP and general media online and off, the narrative was won, the “troll” moniker debunked and all pending patent litigation was settled, including a $267.5 million payment by RIM. Sometimes a name is more expensive than sticks and stones.