This is the latest in the series titled “NPE Showcase,” where we discuss high-volume non-practicing entities (or as some call them, “patent trolls”). This installment will focus on a company named InvesTrex, LLC.

An NPE named InvesTrex recently launched a new round of lawsuits against major players in the investment journalism industry. According to InvesTrex, the defendants infringe because they maintain social networks that allow users to send hyperlinks to a stock information page. Sending a $COMPANY link within a social network would supposedly infringe InvesTrex’s patent.

InvesTrex filed its first lawsuit last year and predictably settled in short order. Within three months, the parties agreed to dismiss the lawsuit for what was almost certainly a modest sum. But why is InvesTrex’s patent so weak?

The InvesTrex patent issued in 2013, just prior to the seminal Supreme Court case of Alice v. CLS Bank. That case changed the course of software patents dramatically and held that such patents would be invalid if their invention was directed to an abstract idea implemented on a general purpose computer. Sending a hyperlinked stock page would almost certainly qualify as an abstract idea, and a cell phone or desktop computer would qualify as a general purpose computer. And there is nothing more to the invention that would transform the abstract idea into a patentable invention based on the guidance already provided by the courts. Put simply, InvesTrex’s patent is vulnerable to a validity challenge.

So why not just invalidate the patent? As ever, it’s not worth the cost. InvesTrex relies on a business model of settling cases at an amount that is below the cost of a motion to dismiss. Such a process disincentivizes a challenge to the validity of the patent because doing so would be more expensive than settling and with no guarantee of success. For example, a defendant may file a motion to dismiss on invalidity grounds, only to see the court defer ruling on the motion until after a Markman hearing. The challenge would fail despite the weakness of the patent and result in nothing but wasted attorneys’ fees.

History repeats itself in NPE litigation. I have no personal knowledge of what InvesTrex would accept in a settlement. But the past indicates the cost would not be as high as a challenge to the very questionable validity of its patent.