Matthew Vella certainly doesn't look like a troll.
Vella is the regular-guy chief executive of Acacia Research Corp., which calls itself a patent outsource licensing company. The Newport Beach firm links up with inventors who fear that others are elbowing in on their patents or whose patents aren't making the money they could.
"Our clients often can't afford to hire specialists that will help turn those patents into money," Vella said. "They are not looking to sell them necessarily, but if they are looking to get money because people are infringing their patents, we want to be their partner."
But critics say Acacia Research and companies like it are...