Actually these companies flood thousands of patents. Most get rejected but by shear volume some do get through that shouldn't and that's when the companies know they sue the crap out of everyone for a common idea. It's exploit=pay dirt
It happens in every industry. Last week I found a new patented filed by a competitor that got approved. It was a patent for exactly the same thing my company does and already patented years ago. Our two companies only have a handful of pantents for that certain kind of product. It would only take like 30 minutes to read all of them, each patent in only like 4 pages long.
Anyways that proves that the patent office does not cross check patents with things already patented. They just issue them and basically let the courts decide. It is completely wrong when jurors ignore prior patents because since the patent office is not checking then the judge must allow all prior art in as evidence and the jurors must spend the time reading all prior art patents. If no one is going to read any of the prior art patents then trolls will keep getting BS patents and winning lawsuits.
I am still in awe at how our competitor got a patent describing the same thing we already patented. -- ...brought to you by Carl's Jr.