Can't Innovate? Litigate! 3Com Goes Patent Lawsuit Ballistic

from the ghosts-of-companies-past dept

Remember back when 3Com was a big innovative company coming up with interesting new products? What happened since then? Well, as we've seen over and over again, once a company runs into trouble continuing to innovate, its last ditch effort to stay in business is to start suing everyone for patent infringement. Step up to the plate, 3Com. The company set up a subsidiary specifically for suing other companies for patent infringement and just sued Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Sony, and Toshiba. Oh, and take a guess where this "subsidiary" set up shop? East Texas... of course. All the better to file patent lawsuits apparently...


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  1.  
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    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 2:20pm

    What town is this shop in? I may be in the market for a new job......

     

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  2.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Hence the old joke:

    How do you get to Texas?

    Well, from Chicago you go west til you smell it, and south til you step in it...

     

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  3.  
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    Lucretious, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 3:17pm

    Isn't there some kind of judicial oversight in East Texas FFS?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    Mockery

    The East Texas FFS makes a mockery of the entire judicial system.

     

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  5.  
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    captn trips, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 3:42pm

    "Isn't there some kind of judicial oversight in East Texas FFS?"

    It's kinda like "Business Tourism" the citizens and community at large are rewarded (bribed?) for rendering verdicts with ... wait for it... livestock :) As if there wasn't enough bull in that district. I'm sure there are lots of other reasons why they just get together and decide to give hundreds of millions of dollars to one company or another.. but it's beyond me.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:07pm

    from the patent description in the article, it's basically NIC technology that transmits and receives without a buffer...

    but doesn't most, if not all, network transmission uses buffer?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    Great question #3. If one wanted to reform Marshall's judicial system, where would they start?

     

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  8.  
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    interval, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:37pm

    Its really too bad. 3Com used to be an innovatin' industry giant. The new kids who didn't want to do the suite & tie thing at Microsoft and didn't meet the high "artistic" standards or whatever Jobs had going on at Apple often found a niche at 3Com.

     

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  9.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:50pm

    The old saying

    First you innovate
    Then you stagnate
    Then you litigate
    Then you fold up shop

    --Mahatma Ghandi

     

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  10.  
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    ScaredOfTheMan, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 5:13pm

    Actions Speak Louder than words....

    I Love this quote...

    CEO David A. Kennedy in the statement. “We believe that the continued aggressive enforcement of the fundamental ethernet technologies developed by 3Com against the waves of cheap, knock-off, foreign manufactured equipment is a necessary step in protecting the competitiveness of this American technology and American companies in general.”

    Meanwhile we let Hawaii invest in 3com, a chinese company that had routers basically running OS based on another well known american networking company. Since bought out, but still...

    Pity though, I used to really root for 3Com, from their Modems to their Palm Pilot.

     

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  11.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 8:02pm

    3com still exists?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 5:08am

    #10, sounds like you were really a fan of US Robotics.

     

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  13.  
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    Dale B. Halling, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 8:06am

    Innovation & Litigation

    If other companies are stealing your technology, at some point you have to enforce your rights. TI used this strategy in the 80s when the Japanese semiconductor manufacturers were free loading on its technology. The alternative occurred in the 70s when FTC required that Xerox license all its technology for next to nothing. The copier market is now dominated by companies that did not have to pay to develop the technology and Xerox almost went bankrupt in the 80s. For more on the detrimental effects of intellectual property socialism see http://hallingblog.com/2009/05/15/intellectual-property-socialism-part-ii-u-s-patent-law-from-1960-2 000/

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 9:20am

    For more on the detrimental effects of intellectual property socialism

    I love it when people throw words around that they don't know a meaning of. The actual existence of patent system is socialist in nature. Any use of it beyond that is just that, use of socialist system.

     

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  15.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Re: Innovation & Litigation

    I went to your site, and read the nonsense you wrote at that link. You are so over-hydrated by the pro-IP kool-aid that you actually stood in vehement defense of the Amazon one-click patent.

    It will be tough to argue with you. That's because maximalists like you are incapable of debate. You see the issue of IP as black and white. You don't acknowledge that there are costs to IP, costs to patents, and costs to government-interference monopolies guaranteed to the first to file.

    On this site, many admit to the benefits that patents might offer in terms of incentive to create, yet we think the societal costs are greater than the gains. We love to discuss it and argue the evidence. That's hard to do with extremists who write us off as "socialist morons" who just want everything for free.

    For the record, your views of patents are more socialist than ours, since you are advocating government interference in the free market. If you're going to argue pro-government interference, just embrace it. Don't lie to yourself and others.

    Your suggestion that Barnes and Noble should have "innovated around" the Amazon patent by coming up with a "two click" patent is almost comical. What should the next bookstore do? Naturally, you would suggest a creative three click approach! And so on, and so on, until "a method for purchasing goods online with just" 1 through n clicks are all patented. That's dumb for a variety of reasons:

    - any new entrant with a web store would be discouraged to enter the market, because they would get a lawsuit (or a license 'tax') if their store used any number of clicks between 0 and n.

    - one-click WAS obvious, and inevitable because of the very nature of this: The mantra in e-commerce is that you lose 50% of sales on each click. That market pressure would naturally drive all e-commerce vendors towards reduced clicks, eventually landing at the greatest non-zero integer.

    - it is a waste of government resources, business resources, and time to focus on patenting click numbers that does nothing good for society. All these resources you suggest should be spent at the USPTO should actually be spend building better products and competing in the marketplace.

    Calling B&N "lazy" for not "inventing" two clicks is the kind of twisted conclusion one might come to if they were capable of kidding themselves that 1-click was creative.

    Do you really want to argue the benefits of the patent system over the subject of the 1-click patent? Seems like a big gamble on your part to pick one of the most famous bad patents. What made this patent such a slam-dunk discussion point for IP-minimalists was that any American not involved in the IP discussion could use their common sense, and see that something was wrong with the system. If your policy choices offend the common sense of the vast majority of your countrymen, you should at least consider alternate policies.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Innovation & Litigation

    If other companies are stealing your technology, at some point you have to enforce your rights.

    First, there is no "stealing" going on. There may be copying, but that's not stealing.

    And I have a serious question: why do you "have" to enforce your rights? What if you can do better by innovating instead?

    TI used this strategy in the 80s when the Japanese semiconductor manufacturers were free loading on its technology.

    And by "free loading" you mean... "competing." And by "used this strategy" you mean "went running to the gov't to stop competition."

    The alternative occurred in the 70s when FTC required that Xerox license all its technology for next to nothing. The copier market is now dominated by companies that did not have to pay to develop the technology and Xerox almost went bankrupt in the 80s.

    Heh. Yes, because Xerox failed to compete and innovate, while others did a better job. That's called capitalism, and we generally LIKE that. There's no rule that the first to market gets to keep the market.

    For more on the detrimental effects of intellectual property socialism see

    Wow. You don't know what socialism is, do you? You are calling the free market "socialism" and you are calling gov't protectionism "capitalism." Up is down, black is white. No offense, Dale, but it's tough to take you seriously.

     

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  17.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    It is theft on a grand scale, as in BILLIONS $$$$

    Mike drivel "First, there is no "stealing" going on. There may be copying, but that's not stealing."

    Patents are a PROPERTY RIGHT which have economic value. When someone take the value away from those who own the rights it is stealing. The only difference between patent property rights and other tangible property is that with patents we only have the right to seek damages while in the latter case their tails would go to jail. Maybe it is time to criminalize theft of patent property rights.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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