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The patent trolls know that the rational (in the game-theory sense of the word) decision for the victim company is to settle, because the cost of taking it to court (in both legal fees and lost time) exceed the cost of the settlement.

It's like an asymmetric game of chicken. Both players know that the troll has the advantage of having less to lose in a "collision" (a lawsuit), so the troll can count on the victim to "swerve" (settle). If the victim was able to eliminate the cost of a collision, and the troll knew that the cost of a collision to the victim company was eliminated, it would make more sense for the troll to swerve (drop the claim).

(More chicken strategies here: http://mindyourdecisions.com/blog/2009/01/20/4-tips-for-winn... . This strategy is most similar to #3.)

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