Soon after RIM decided to settle their lawsuit with NTP for over $600 million, just as most of the NTP patents were being rejected by the patent office, we noted that other patent owners would be emboldened to go on similar fishing expeditions. Apparently, at least one of them decided to hire the NTP lawyer himself to do so. Mousky writes in to point out that a Canadian company, Belzberg Technologies, has hired Donald Stout, the lawyer who teamed up with Thomas Campana to form NTP as a patent holding firm. Belzberg looks like a similar situation. They hold a broad patent that they believe covers all electronic stock trading -- and they now want everyone to pay up. This again highlights a problem with the patent system. If, as Mr. Belzberg claims, "without that technology there wouldn't be any electronic trading," then that suggests that, without such a patent, no one else would have figured out how to trade online -- which seems highly questionable. Yet, with the way the patent system works, he now gets to tell other companies that they need to pay up -- most likely for something they came up with entirely without Belzberg's patents. As the internet took off trading online became an "obvious" next step of the technology -- but because one guy filed such patents, he now gets to waste lots of people's time and money on such patent threats. Again, we wonder how this promotes innovation.
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