Included in their story is a wonderful description of a trip to Marshall, Texas, in an attempt to talk to a living human being at one of the companies filing lawsuits for software patent infringement:
So we went to Marshall. The door to Oasis's office was locked, and through the crack under the door we could see there were no lights were on inside.
It's kind of a cliche to knock on the door of the empty office. But we'd flown a long way. So we knocked. No one answered.
The office was in a corridor where all the other doors looked exactly the same —locked, nameplates over the door, no light coming out. It was a corridor of silent, empty offices with names like "Software Rights Archive," and "Bulletproof Technology of Texas."
It turns out a lot of those companies in that corridor, maybe every single one of them, is doing exactly what Oasis Research is doing. They appear to have no employees. They are not coming up with new inventions. The companies are in Marshall, Texas because they are filing lawsuits for patent infringement.
Patent lawsuits are big business in Marshall, which is part of the eastern district of Texas.
Many people say that juries in Marshall are friendly to patent owners trying to get a large verdict. A local lawyer who has argued on both sides of numerous patent cases says it's actually because cases go to trial more quickly in Marshall than in other places.
In any case, thousands of lawsuits are filed there, claiming that there's an inventor whose invention is being used without permission. But there are no inventors in Marshall, just corridors of empty offices.
It's a great article, and the team from NPR did great reporting work to bring it all together. You should read the whole thing (or listen to the NPR episode on the radio).