fermion writes "This American Life is running a story this week on Intellectual Ventures, a firm some consider the leader of the patent trolls. The story delves into the origins of the term patent troll and the rise of the patent troll industry. Much time is spent presenting Intellectual Ventures both as a patent troll firm and a legitimate business that allows helpless inventors to monetize patents. It is stipulated that Intellectual Ventures does not in fact sue anyone. It is also alleged that Intellectual Ventures creates many shell companies, presumably to hide such activity. Intellectual Ventures is compared to a Mafia protection racket that may never actually burn down a business that does not pay the dues, but does encourage such burning to occur."