Big Time Patent Attorney Jumps Into The Patent Trolling Game By Buying 4,500 Patents From Micron

from the abusing-the-system dept

I recently had a conversation with a patent litigator for a big name law firm. He tends to work on the "defense" side of things -- defending tech companies against lawsuits from patent hoarders, who he felt were causing serious problems for innovation. That said... he admitted that watching how much money folks make by hoarding patents and suing big companies for actually innovating, it's really tempting to get into the game. At some point, your resolve wares down, and you realize there's just so much money to be made abusing the system, that it's difficult to resist. We've seen that a lot. In fact, two years ago, we wrote about how many of the new generation of "patent trolls" were former patent lawyers themselves, who felt it was better to make money abusing the system directly, rather than being a hired gun for some other patent hoarder.

In our recent post about Erich Spangenberg, he admitted that was part of his reasoning. After working for a big law firm for a bit, he decided it was more lucrative to own the patents and sue everyone himself, rather than just being a lawyer working for others. In that article, Spangenberg also mentioned that Micron had recently sold a bunch of patents to a well-known patent attorney, John Desmarais. That story is now getting more attention, as Bloomberg has an entire article about Desmarais jumping ship from his big law firm to buy 4,500 patents from Micron and put them into a new firm that will be used to demand money from lots of tech companies.

It's hard to read the article and not be depressed. Here's someone who clearly knows how the system is being abused, and rather than fight for a better system, he decides to abuse the system himself. Such is the state of our broken patent system.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 3:29pm

    "It's hard not to read the article and be depressed."

    It's hard to read the article and not be depressed *

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    wow....
    how the hell do these scumbags sleep at night? oh wait. big piles of free money while the destroy innovation. yea. almost forgot about that.

    so can we have a modern day robin hood? I volunteer to be friar tuck.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 3:31pm

    "Here's someone who clearly knows how the system is being abused, and rather than fight for a better system, he decides to abuse the system himself. Such is the state of our broken patent system."

    I think if everyone tried to abuse the system, as a rule, it would force the government to fix the system. So in a twisted sense by making the system worse he is giving the government and others incentive to fix it. Things have to get worse before they get better.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 3:36pm

    the funny part is that he isnt abusing the system, he is using it as designed. your assumption that he will be patent trolling is a big jump. perhaps these patents are for future use. perhaps he is going to get into actually licensing the patents so they can be used, rather than leaving them lying in microns drawer, untouched. perhaps micron has allowed others to infringe on their patents without taking action, but a lawyer by profession feels he can risk his time to push the issue in court.

    do you have some examples to the patents you claim he will be trolling with?

     

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  5.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

    Re:

    Good edit. Made the change... thanks.

     

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  6.  
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    Kryz, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 3:52pm

    Re:

    Did you like not read the article or don't know the definition of abusing?

    Licensing patents to be used? The technology would be used irrelevant of being licensed or not.

    You're right - push the issue in court - but the monetary gains won't be going to micron.

     

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  7.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re:

    "At some point, your resolve wares down..."

    Punny?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:12pm

    The American Dream

    Suing other people for money for patent holdups without developing any of your own products or research - it's the new American dream. I'll bet you a herd of bulls named TiVo that Desmaris files his first lawsuit in Marshall or Tyler. Of course, anyone who knows John knows that he's going to be incredibly successful at this venture. If he doesn't let his ego get in the way of a decent settlement, that is.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:18pm

    Re:

    "the funny part is that he isnt abusing the system, he is using it as designed."

    So the system is designed to be abused? It's designed to promote extortion and hinder progress and take money away from successful companies who spend their money to innovate and give it to failures who sue for no good reason? Just goes to show you what the patent system is intended to do and provides more reason to destroy it.

    "perhaps he is going to get into actually licensing the patents so they can be used, rather than leaving them lying in microns drawer, untouched."

    But neither promotes the progress. The former prevents others from using it, the later takes money from the successful and gives it to the failures. Instead, a patent system where these patents are automatically invalidated allows the successful to innovate without worrying about infringing upon bogus patents.

    "perhaps micron has allowed others to infringe on their patents without taking action, but a lawyer by profession feels he can risk his time to push the issue in court."

    and this promotes the progress how?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:31pm

    Great. So does this mean I'm a pen pirate?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:32pm

    Re: The American Dream

    Then I'll make money setting up his temporary office. I hate the way it works, but I make so damn much money off of it that I hate to see it end here in East Texas.

     

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  12.  
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    Coco Was Screwed, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:36pm

    Re:


    I volunteer to be friar tuck.

    that's really the only role for a neckbeard...

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:37pm

    "Such is the state of our broken patent system."

    No, such is the state of a few individuals who choose try and enrich themselves at the expense of others.

     

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  14.  
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    DocMenach (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:38pm

    Re:

    do you have some examples to the patents you claim he will be trolling with?

    Well, you could have tried reading the linked article. Here it is again in case you missed it the first time:
    http://preview.bloomberg.com/news/2010-06-01/billion-dollar-lawyer-quits-firm-buys-patents-to -troll-for-license-fees.html
    The article goes into very good detail about how he started up this new company solely for the purpose of pursuing licensing fees and lawsuits for the patents he purchased. The article also talks about the fact that Micron retained a royalty-free licence to continue using the patents, implying that they are not "... lying in microns drawer".

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:46pm

    I wonder where his new firm will be based? Three guesses first two don't count.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:52pm

    Re:

    Which is a symptom of a broken patent system that enables this.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS ONE, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 4:58pm

    Syndicracy

    Rule by corporation. From syndicate, a business group and -cracy, to rule or govern.

    remember that hollywood was founded by a syndicate of the Sicilian maffia. THERE jsut doing what they always have.
    AND funny the president hails form chicago where good ol al capone used to dwell.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re:

    "but the monetary gains won't be going to micron."

    Or any other vehicle of innovation. I would however allow this man to hire lawyers to siphon funds from innovators. That's what he meant by "he is using it as designed".

     

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  19.  
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    FUCK LAWYERS, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 5:03pm

    @4 HI LAWYER

    yup we got our own lawyer troll trying to tell any human what you just did is well wasted cause its clear if someone buys 4500 patents without resources to build anything all there doing is gaming to get rich off things, and never innovate off and build or build on any of the patents they just bought

    SO in the end the ONLY REAL SOLUTION is to stop anyone buying anyone else's patents and if you want it built convince a banker its worth a loan and GO FOR IT

    other wise your invention should and is useless to mankind or too obvious then frak you

    AS TO LARGE holders of inventions if after a 3 year time you do not build anything of it as you have the resources too build. THE PATENT TIME should go poof,

    EASY GET BUSY MAKING the lawyers some work drawing up lawspeak

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re:

    which suggests that micron was using them already. so not only did they hold patents, but they actually brought them to market. seems like this guy bought the right patents, one that have some market value.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 5:06pm

    Re:

    Oh, New York ... that's unexpected.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ha, I was actually wondering if that was intentional.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "seems like this guy bought the right patents, one that have some market value."

    Saying that monopolies have market value to the monopoly holders is different than saying they promote the progress or public welfare.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 5:36pm

    Wow, what a shocking revelation: the system is broken and there are ways to take advantage of it and people are taking advantage of it.

    I've been reading this blog for years now, and I've gone from surprised by the abuse in patent and entertainment systems, to outraged, to indifferent, to wondering how I could get in on the scam.

    Alas I'm not a lawyer...

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 5:53pm

    LAWYER DOES SOMETHING UNETHICAL!

    News at eleven.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 7:11pm

    Just a big game

    For most lawyers that I know its about the game, kind of like poker. Desmarais just stepped into the High Stakes room at the legal casino to play his best game. And cash in when he wins of course.

    If there is a system some people will game it. I have yet to see a perfect system. For some its more about playing the game than winning.

    I support patents but I do not support extortion. Any kind of 'sue first sort out the details later' approach to patents is bad for everyone.

     

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  27.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 7:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "resolve "

    No its an ad for a carpet cleaner ...

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Richard Corsale, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Just a big game

    So how would you refactor the patent system?

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 4:28am

    Re:

    Funniest comment I've read ever on Techdirt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It suggests that Micron did not want to be sued by this lawyer after selling the patents to him.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 5:27am

    A lot of the general populace find lawyers to be parasites on the cock of society. This just reinforces it.

     

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  32.  
    icon
    senshikaze (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re:

    and he makes beer!
    i mean damn, I was born for this role!

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re:

    So the system is designed to be abused?

    If he's using it as designed, then it isn't abuse.

    It's designed to promote extortion and hinder progress and take money away from successful companies who spend their money to innovate and give it to failures who sue for no good reason?

    Yes. So?

    Just goes to show you what the patent system is intended to do and provides more reason to destroy it.

    You and whose army of lawyers?

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    staff, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 6:47am

    stop shilling!

    "patent hoarders"

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 6:49am

    Re:

    No, such is the state of a few individuals who choose try and enrich themselves at the expense of others.

    That's just good old capitalism.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re: Just a big game

    So how would you refactor the patent system?

    First, the scope of what is patentable needs to be greatly extended.

    Second, the length of patents needs to be extend to at least 100 years, or more.

    Third, the penalties for violating patents and the remedies available to patent holders need to be increased.

    All three are in the works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 9:25am

    Re: stop shilling!

    wait. most patent hoarders didn't invent a damned thing. they bought a slip of paper and now are making money off someone else's back. only an idiot could even think that this system works. the patent system is broken. has been for a very, very long time.

    your post could be consider a prime example of another type of trolling.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 10:33am

    Re: Re:

    One does not necessarily relate to the other. Greed abounds everywhere...

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re: Just a big game

    Not saying I have all of the answers. If there is a system then soneone will try to game it. I have yet to see a perfec system of any kind. Does that mean we should throw all systems away? No.

    Unfortunately, between the court system and the patent system it is easy to cause enough legal trouble to get people/companies to just settle. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with the patent system, perhaps the problem really lies with the court system. Maybe it should not be so easy to sue any entity that does something even remotely similar to a given patent.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: stop shilling!

    "and now are making money off someone else's back"

    So folks against patents will not accept the 'sweat of the brow' argument for patents but they will use when its conveinent to argue against them.

    Argument Fail.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 12:55pm

    "there's just so much money to be made"

    You go awry with the word "made". This isn't *making* money, meaning increasing the value of labor in society by trading efforts with others specializing in different occupations. This is simply legalized theft, "re-distributing" income.

     

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  42.  
    icon
    senshikaze (profile), Jun 5th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: stop shilling!

    what? i am saying that the people who are patent trolls don't actually do any work. i said nothing about the people who actually do invent things.

    the idea of the patent system isn't horrible; i mean the whole point is that inventors give up the secret to their invention for a government granted monopoly on that invention. where the problem comes in is that people can sell this monopoly without actually making anything.

    I personally think that 1) software patents should be abolished completely under the whole mathematical formula rule, 2) if you don't make a product in X years using said patent, the patent is void, and 3) patents can only be used by the person or company that filed it.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Scumbags

    Get a life. You don't know anything about innovation or how the world works.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Dohn Joe, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 12:39am

    For Real?

    It's hard to read the article and not be depressed. Here's someone who clearly knows how the system is being abused, and rather than fight for a better system, he decides to abuse the system himself. Such is the state of our broken patent system.

    ===============================

    Really Mike? Are you that naive? Is there any "system" in our socio-political situation where this is NOT the case? I can't name one...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 1:00am

    Re:

    Agreed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 11:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: stop shilling!

    There is a difference between taking money from others who do work and doing work without having to worry about others telling you that you can't do this work without paying them for a license. Those who infringe on patents are doing useful work to society, they are making a contribution. Suing them contributes nothing, it only steals their freedoms. As someone pointed out, it's legalized theft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 11:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Free market capitalism = less government intervention

    Patents = more government intervention

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 11:53pm

    Re: stop shilling!

    No, it means, I'm telling you that you can't do X unless you pay me. You don't need me to tell you that doing X is beneficial to you, you can figure out X all on your own, so I will simply tell you that you can't do X without paying me. It's not innovation, it's a restriction of my rights.

    If I told you that you can't sell hamburgers without paying me because selling hamburgers is an innovation that I came up with, it's my innovation, most would disagree. This is basically what a patent is, a privilege to tell others what they can't do without paying some irrelevant third party.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    which suggests they are using them (or will use them) which suggests they actually have applicable uses, and value.

    i am thinking that micron realized they have a valuable patent collection, some of which are already being abused, and sold them off to the lawyer rather than do the legal work themselves. take the big money now, rather than wait years for lawsuits and settlements to come around.

    it looks like the lawyer bought active, real, and functional patents. i dont see trolling here, i see someone buying low, applying his skills to the project to "sell high".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Kazi, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Wait, so you're telling me that map hacks, aim bots, and speed hacks in games are ok?

    They games are designed with that functionality. A little creativity opens it up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 3:12pm

    This is why we all love lawyers so much, while hoping they all die.

    Not only hoping they die, but in such a horrible, painful, and unprecedented manner that making a video of it and distributing it would be one of the all-time money making ventures you could dream up. Imagine being able to see film of an actual lawyer being tortured in a manner that would have made Dr. Mengele blush, until begging to be mercifully dispatched without further ado. And being denied that. Lawyer snuff films! A new industry. I thought of it first, so I'm patenting it, and anyone who disagrees can see my attorney, and torture him to death. Yeah!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    senshikaze (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 6:13pm

    Re: Re: Scumbags

    you are right. i keep forgetting that honor and morals died in the last century. I apologize for believing that humans should be better than they are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Sep 14th, 2010 @ 5:25pm

    Re: For Real?

    To Solve the problem you have to be aware of it. Such is the conscious of society by that I mean the press.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Aaron, Dec 25th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    Hmm - nice catch. Looks like it was fixed?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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