Patent trolls’ carefree days of easy money might soon be over. The New York Times reports that the Federal Trade Commission is planning to launch a formal investigation into the practices of patent holding firms that buy up patents to use as weapons in intellectual property lawsuits despite the fact that they don’t make any actual products of their own. The Times says that FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez will ask the commission “to approve an inquiry that will include the issuance of subpoenas to companies that are known as patent-assertion entities” that will force the firms “to answer questions about how they conduct their operations, including whether they coordinate their lawsuits with other patent holders and if they funnel proceeds from lawsuits and patent licenses back to the original patent owner.”

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.