defensive patentThe legal rights to an invention that is created or purchased by an organization to fight, avoid or help settle a patent infringement lawsuit levied against it in the future. Contrast with the traditional purpose of a patent, which is to eliminate competition or make money from royalties.
Especially in the mobile computing arena, companies have armed themselves with defensive patents to be able to countersue as well as cross license inventions to avoid monetary damages. Since the turn of the century, billions have been spent for patents from companies that no longer need them. Hundreds of patents can be created for any product and cover trivial actions such as which direction a screen is swiped to unlock a device.