When Patents Attack: How Patents Are Destroying Innovation In Silicon Valley

from the can-we-be-done-with-this? dept

This week's episode of This American Life is absolutely worth listening to. The TAL team has been doing more and more amazing investigative reporting work in the past year or so, and this week's episode is called, "When Patents Attack!" which was apparently a last minute change from the much more bland and misleading "Invention Peddlers." The episode was done by Planet Money's Alex Blumberg and NPR's Laura Sydell and there's a written version of the story on the Planet Money blog, which covers most, but not all, of what's on the audio version (and, yes, it's nice that the story refers to Techdirt as an "influential blog," though it looks like they may have only done that in order to have someone they could "quote" calling Intellectual Ventures a "patent troll").

The episode does a nice job showing how much Silicon Valley hates patents -- and highlights how it's got nothing to do with people wanting to "steal" ideas, as patent system defenders will claim, but because ridiculous, broad, meaningless patents get approved all the time. The story quotes patent holders themselves who say they have no clue what their own patents mean and that they're "embarrassed" to have their name on such things.

Most of the story is focused on Intellectual Ventures, of course. And it does a wonderful job basically debunking all of IV's usual talking points (though, honestly, they could have gone farther on a few of the debunkings). IV does its usual song and dance. As it does any time a reporter wants to write about it, IV shows off its "lab," which is where lesser reporters start to swoon. The TAL team quickly points out that absolutely nothing from the lab has ever come to market. Instead, it points out that IV seems to make all of its money from shaking down companies. IV tries to push back and uses the story of "Chris Crawford" as proof that IV is really about supporting inventors.

So, the TAL team digs into the story of Chris Crawford and his patent. And it basically disproves everything that IV claims, and shows, yet again, that IV is nothing but a giant patent troll shaking down companies for cash. First, they look at the patent in question, 5,771,354, for an "Internet online backup system provides remote storage for customers using IDS & passwords which were interactively established when signing up for backup services." Yeah. Online storage. Patented. But not just by Mr. Crawford. TAL talks to David Martin, who analyzed Crawford's patent, and notes that there were over 5,000 patents that were issued for the exact same thing. Not slightly different. The same thing. This is a massive failure of the patent system and the USPTO (which doesn't appear in the story, which is fine, because they would have just given the usual meaningless statements). Another person looked at Crawford's patent, and points to a ton of prior art.

And this is IV's go-to patent in proving it supports innovation.

The piece discussed trying to track down Crawford and the patent. Crawford cannot be found, but it doesn't matter, because he's got nothing to do with the patent. He sold it to one of Intellectual Ventures' 1,300+ shell companies, who transferred it to another shell company, who transferred it to another shell company (still owned by IV), who then "sold" it to "Oasis Research." Oasis Research, like many patent trolls, is a shell company for its owners, who are hidden away. There's simply no way to officially know who owns Oasis Research. And that's because the entire point of Oasis Research is to act as a shell and a shield for its real owners (almost certainly a few patent attorneys). TAL goes to the fake, totally empty, "offices" of Oasis Research, in Marshall Texas. They're in a building with a bunch of other such "companies." They all have empty offices with no employees and certainly aren't doing a damn thing for innovation. They have offices so they can sue in every patent troll's favorite court system: the one in East Texas.

Of course, it turns out that Intellectual Ventures still has an economic interest in the patent -- which is pretty typical. For years, IV wouldn't sue directly, but instead handed off its patents to these kinds of shell companies (the ones it used to claim its mission was to eradicate) and then collect a cut of any of the money made.

One of the more amusing (though, depressing) scenes in the episode (which isn't in the written version) is when the TAL team starts asking some very basic (you would think) questions about the lineage of ownership in Crawford's patent. They talk to Peter Detkin, the former Intel patent attorney who coined the term "patent troll" in talking about Ray Niro (not mentioned in the episode)... but who went over to the dark side in a big, bad way by co-founding Intellectual Ventures. Detkin appears to suffer from a massive bout of cognitive dissonance in trying to pretend that IV is not doing the exact same thing that he claims he hates. The TAL team shows him the USPTO's standard page showing the changing patent assignments, and Detkin basically starts to stutter that he's "unfamiliar" with this particular thing. He literally states:
Detkin: I won't be able to tell you, probably, from looking at this. I mean I'd have to talk to... I'm not even an expert in... You're looking at the USPTO website? I haven't looked at this particular website in a while. I don't know how it's organized....

Alex Blumberg, from TAL: Wait... are you telling me that you're the... (long pause)... you run a patent company and you were the head counsel at Intel in the patent department, and you don't know what the Patent Office website is... you don't know how to read this...?

Detkin: (Frustrated) Look, I can look at this if you want, but I haven't looked at this particular website and I don't now how it's organized, and I'm not exactly sure what it is you're trying to get at... and I'm happy to answer questions, but if you're going to cross-examine me on the record about a patent website, I don't quite think that's fair...
Soon after that you hear IV's PR person jump in and try to stop the interview. Yeah. Detkin claiming he can't understand the USPTO website is just classic.

Anyway, the whole thing is worth a listen. I'm hopeful, but doubtful, that something useful might come of this. When the Planet Money team recently exposed the massive government waste in the form of the dollar coin minting laws, it actually resulted in a bunch of politicians springing into action. I doubt that will happen here, because we just went through about seven years of battles concerning patent reform, and what came out of it was watered down nothingness. Of note: Intellectual Ventures fought hard (and potentially dirty) against patent reform... until it suddenly switched camps, once the reform was watered down so much as to be useless.

The key takeaway, though, is just how incredibly damaging the entire patent system is to actual innovation today, and how pretty much everyone in Silicon Valley recognizes it -- but many are afraid to speak out about it, because they fear getting targeted by flat out bullies like Intellectual Ventures. Our government keeps talking up the importance of innovation and job creation... and then leaves us saddled us with a patent system that does everything possible to hinder innovation and destroy companies. I'm glad that mainstream outlets like This American Life are covering the story. I just wish I were more optimistic that it would actually result in some kind of change.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Pickle Monger (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Righteous outrage

    How dare you suggest that nothing came out of The Lab? A $600 cookbook came out of there... Wanna know a secret of a pefect hamburger? Liquid nitrogen. That's right, the morning of your BBQ stop by your local Home Depot for a jug of liquid nitrogen and start dipping the patties in it before throwing them on the grill. Long live Intellectual Ventures! Long live Innovation!

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    "The key part of my anti-patent, anti-copyright agenda, though, is just how incredibly damaging I think the entire patent system is to actual innovation today, and how pretty much nobody in Silicon Valley recognizes it -- and many are not bothering to speak out about it"

    FTFY.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 7:55am

    Mike I really enjoy your blog but I have to say this...you are infatuted with the term debunking, lol, you use it in like every post :)

     

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  4.  
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    TDR, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:08am

    Re:

    *swoosh*

    That was the point, sailing over that huge melon on top of your neck. Like most trolls, you have no idea what it looks like.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Re:

    do you get paid to be clueless or is it just a gift?

     

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  6.  
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    TCBloo (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re:

    He obviously gets paid. Why would he produce his "content" without being subsidized in some manner? That would make him one of those evil freetards.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    And the Chinese just simply don't /need/ the US or Europe anymore. The Chinese have or are about to surpass US industrial output, and with General Motors using the bailout money to move to China, decline is only going to accelerate.

    By the way, for all you "capitalists", you should ponder how it is that Communist China HAS so greatly increased its manufacturing -- once set on that course instead of classical pattern -- but it's STILL fundamentally a Communist police state and is remaining so, engaging in such practices as selling the organs of prisoners who are executed whenever a rich foreigners pays. And of course the Chinese military owns much of the manufacturing sector.

    So "capitalists" in Silicon Valley are exploiting the slave labor of the Chinese people. Doesn't that utterly upset your notions as to how pure and good "capitalism" is?

     

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  8.  
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    Robert Doyle (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:39am

    Yeah, nothing for free

    I wouldn't be commenting here except I was paid... wasn't everyone else? No one does ANYTHING for free... I won't even sweat for less than 30 bucks.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:43am

    Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    Well if that is the reason, then it is one more reason why IP is so malevolent.

    You see if there was no IP manufactures wouldn't be able to just move their production lines elsewhere and stop others from doing it at home would they?

     

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    Mike42 (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:47am

    Innovation...

    A few weeks ago I was looking through some back-issues of Popular Science from the late 80's, and I was struck by the similarity of the technology to today's. Sure, Moore's law has made computer systems faster and given them more capacity, but the way they are used is stagnant. The magazine is also littered with wind/solar power systems and devices to increase automotive efficiency. If patents were doing what they're supposed to do, shouldn't we have a 50mpg 5 seat production vehicle by now, and be able to buy a 25% efficient solar panel?

     

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    The eejit (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:49am

    Re:

    I think IV patented that in 2004.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    Only Communists don't want private property rights to extend to the intellectual realm (for a limited time, as in US Constitution). I'm not being facetious. Historically, patents and copyright worked fine in the US and Europe. Now in the Brave New World with its New World Order, what worked is being attacked. Our manufacturing has been and still is being deliberately undermined by "capitalists" who don't see the intrinsic good in manufacturing, only short-term goals of exploiting foreign labor to enrich themselves by looting the rest of Western society. Instead of teaching the developing world "better" ways, these capitalists are using the same old ways and degrading our society to do it.

    It's part of the neo-con plan: bankrupt the US by moving manufacturing elsewhere, saddle US taxpayers with debt to foreigners in the trade deficit. -- Do you know how much the US owes China at present? If the Chinese stop buying Treasury bills, and stop sending us manufactured goods, most of which are simply not made in the US anymore, the US would SOON collapse. It's been hollowed out on purpose.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 9:09am

    After hearing that piece I got real upset. I could have raked in the cash with my patent for toast. Sorry, bread refreshening method #6080436. That was a real flash of brilliance.

     

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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 9:44am

    There's simply no way to officially know who owns Oasis Research. And that's because the entire point of Oasis Research is to act as a shell and a shield for its real owners (almost certainly a few patent attorneys).

    Well, whoever owns them is hip-deep in lawsuits. From the transcription:

    "Another group of former IV patents is being used in one of the most controversial and talked about cases in Silicon Valley right now. An NPE called Lodsys is suing roughly three dozen companies developing apps for the iPhone and for Android phones. Lodsys says it owns the patent on buying things from within a smartphone app.

    One interesting wrinkle about that case: The address for Lodsys is 104 E. Houston street, Marshall Texas, suite 190. The same exact address, down to the suite number, as Oasis Research."

    So, while IV proper may not actually sue, every shell company connected with its patents sure does a lot of it.

     

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    Kaden (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Re: Yeah, nothing for free

    Prepare to rethink your business model: iSweat's getting set to roll out at .99/armpit.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re:

    Splat. The sound of your horrible insult hitting the ground like sticky wet troll bait. Too bad you didn't have anything to add.

    Oh yeah, I got the point. Mike hates patents. And copyright. And apparently business.

     

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  17.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 10:15am

    Re:

    Anonymous Coward, I really enjoy laughing at your posts but I have to say this . . . you are like infuriated with Mikes debunking posts, like totally, like every post.

     

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  18.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Splat. The sound of your troll brain hitting the bottom of stupidity after some trolling session.

    Read the article. He doesn't hate patents. He's commenting on a pretty good work on how the current patent system is full of problems.

     

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    Mike42 (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    Eli Whitney died pennyless because other people ignored his patent and made cheaper cotton gins that worked better. Holywood is in California because Edison chased them there with patent laws. Two easy examples of how IP laws have NOT worked the way they were intended, and success was had in SPITE of them.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    wow. What weed are you smoking.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    He's on the Pineapple Express.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    So Eli Whitney dying pennyless is "success" in your opinion. Nice.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    The American industry is being decimated by IP laws and paternalistic behavior on the part of politicians.

    IP laws make it impossible for others to make something or start something.

    Fraking IP laws kills the little companies and sterelize the field, those other companies that keep getting bigger don't need to innovate or do much of anything and so they get lazy.

    Japan just kicked the American entrepreneurs asses and you wanna know why?

    Because the stupid people in power thought they could legislate Japan out of the market they tried every dirty trick in the book, but Japan had some very strong motivation, the need to earn something, so they did everything others asked from them which in fact made their products better because they really, really needed that market they improved everything to satisfy others and found ways to produce things better and cheaper, today they are becoming the USA and being trashed by South Korea and China.

    Did you know dumbass that America hasn't had a surplus since the 70's? Did you know that American manufacturing is the same as it was in 70's?

    It was not China that made this mess, it was IP law that enabled companies to wipe out the competition acting like a social cancer and enable big companies to go out and produce things overseas without fear of being undermined at home.

    There are very few American companies that can compete in a global market.

    Want to see paternalism create a situation so ludicrous that it will undermine America again?

    Look at Medicare and the whole medical insurance thing. Medical treatment is so expensive that no one even the rich can afford treatment without insurance and because people don't need to pay the bill directly medical services keep charging more and more, it got so expensive now that it is cheaper to travel to India, Singapore, Cuba, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan or Hong Kong, get a four star hotel with a 24/7 translator and have superb service to do surgery.

    That is what you get when you shield other from competiton or the natural pressures of a natural market.

    IP fraking law is a fecking excuse for communists that want the government to control how others should produce something, is not natural and will not survive the test of times at some point people will start ignoring it again, oh well copyright is now ignored nobody take it seriously, this could be patents in a few decades though.

     

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  24.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    In re Crawford's patent

    I've just skimmed it. And as much as I can determine, there was prior art for this a decade before it was filed.

    For example, the claims in the first paragraph were met by the Purdue Engineering Computer Network (ECN), which provided "virtual storage and processing capabilities" circa 1981. (See: Kai Hwang, William J. Croft, George H. Goble, Benjamin W. Wah, Faye A. Briggs, William R. Simmons, Clarence L. Coates. A Unix-Based Local Computer Network with Load Balancing. IEEE Computer, 1982: 55~64 for a writeup.) And the ECN was hardly the only such network; other experimental and production networks were providing similar features by 1985.

    The bulk of this farsical patent consists of a mind-numbing litany of claims involving trivia -- like the structure of fields for billing records. Really? REALLY?

    This is tripe. Ridiculous, babbling, assinine tripe. It (and everything resembling it) should have been fed to shredder, not approved. I'm almost willing to bet that the reason they can't find Crawford is that he's too embarrassed about being associated with it.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ninja, read the whole site. Mike wants to abolish or significantly limit patents. He hates them and finds them obstructionist to his view that any innovation is better than any protection.

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Yeah...

    I listened to most of this broadcast (streamed over the net), and thought it was really well done. Of course, as a holder of a software patent I'm not totally against them, but certainly I'm against most of them. Some are truly innovative and non-obvious, hence worthy of patenting. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most.

     

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  27.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Because the actual evidence of bad patents being used to fill the pockets off those who want to innovate went right directly over your head.

    Where is that wind coming from?

     

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    dwg, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "read the whole site?"

    DAMN, someone has too much time on his hands. and i LIKE the site.

     

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  29.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Let's try this again.

    Bad patents are being used to fill the pockets of those who have nothing to do with innovating or even producing.

    Marshall TX - the patent troll's best friend. Want to know why so many shell companies are there? Criminal cases take a bigger precedence elsewhere.

    Intellectual Ventures sues to get money from people but doesn't produce on their own.

    And yet, all you, AC, can do is say Mike is the bad guy here.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    ND, want to help, but it seems your argument is all over the place.

    How did Japan beat America? Which industries are you talking about? Where exactly has IP law failed (hint: USTR, protectionism) and what can IP law actually assist with if it were better?

     

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    Jay (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Yeah...

    Which ones are innovative? Hell, there's a story about a wheel that was made independently 70 years prior.

    The actual thing is, if the patent office were abolished, we would innovate on a grand scale.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Jay, I agree, there are a few bad patents being misused. It's pretty much in the same manner that a few cars are misused by drunks, or pain medication is misused by junkies. That doesn't in any way suggest that cars or medication are bad, nor can we draw any conclusion about patents.

    Mike wants to absolish the patent system. He supports his claims by wheeling out the most outrageous abuses that exist in the system, and tries to broad brush paint the rest of the system as being equally broken. However, he is unable to explain why there are millions of patents but only a very small number are "abused".

    By his logic, cars, pain meds, and thousands of other things that have been abused (including the term "debunked") would be banned and never again available, because they have all been abused in some manner.

    He is incredibly persuasive, but when you examine the whole of the system, just like looking at cars or pain meds, the overall benefits far outweigh the occasional abuses that do exist. Yes, we can do better, but better is not accomplished by just tossing it all out.

     

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    Prashanth (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    IV actually admits patents are useless

    How? If you read the written version (I wasn't able to hear the MP3), you'll see the IV guys, in response to a question on why they have no plans to bring any of their "products" to the market at any time, admit that inventors invent for the sake of inventing cool new stuff without worrying about patents at all. Granted, those people are funded by a lot of money coming from patent extortion, but unless the costs to start are truly insurmountable, people will continue authoring new works and inventing and innovating new things, intellectual property be damned.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Mike wants to abolish the patent system"

    Great job never actually reading anything he has ever posted on the matter. Instead taking a super-extreme position of "MIKE WANTS TO DESTROY PATENTS, INVENTORS, AND TECHNOLOGY".

    While we're making baseless strawmen, let me chip in:

    "Mike wants to burn puppies and beat the elderly".

    Oh man, while we're on the roller-coaster of stupid, why not go all the way?

    "Mike wants to establish a fascist government which he will use to oppress minorities"

    Mike, why do you hate freedom?

     

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  35.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Jay, I agree, there are a few bad patents being misused. It's pretty much in the same manner that a few cars are misused by drunks, or pain medication is misused by junkies. That doesn't in any way suggest that cars or medication are bad, nor can we draw any conclusion about patents."

    You're trying to rationalize the very fact that the NME (patent trolls) abuse the systems to profit from extorting money from the actual people that merely want to build businesses successfully. It's nothing like your analogies. Microsoft was sued by i4i, and complained about paying money. Meanwhile, they're suing smaller companies in obvious extortion rackets.

    I've just heard about Rovio being sued by Lodsys for their angry birds game.

    We have a ton of companies that are based in Marshall TX just to sue the companies that are succeeding in the market place.

    Mike's position is to fix the patent system. You have him confused with Stephen Kinsella, who has valid reasons (as an IP attorney) to see an abolishment of the Patent Office since it actually impedes on innovation.

    "However, he is unable to explain why there are millions of patents but only a very small number are "abused""

    No. I disagree with you, because I've been looking into patent law myself for my own sake. If you can find a "good" patent, let me know. They are vague, given free reign by IP lawyers who want to make money, and they are not conducive to innovation in any field that they are applied.

    "but when you examine the whole of the system... the overall benefits far outweigh the occasional abuses that do exist."

    Occasional? Every month there is a new abuse of patents in cellphones, video game software, and all sorts of technology. I'll ask again. Name a good patent that hasn't been abused, or I'll take it you're trying to make a disingenuous argument.

    " Yes, we can do better, but better is not accomplished by just tossing it all out."

    Sure we could. Stop giving out patents, look at the field and start invalidating the patents that are either old are too vague.

    This was all explained in the podcast. It seems you'll have a somewhat uphill battle in proving the validity of patents to the market place.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 6:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Mike wants to absolish the patent system. He supports his claims by wheeling out the most outrageous abuses that exist in the system, and tries to broad brush paint the rest of the system as being equally broken. However, he is unable to explain why there are millions of patents but only a very small number are "abused"."

    Oh Dear Lord what misdirection and dishonesty. Lies, really. It's not the percentage of patents being abused (although the 30K+ in the Nortel haul is no small number), it's the scope of their effect on an entire industry. It only takes one successful trollsuit to potentially halt the production of Androids, for instance. That's just one instance. Patents and their abuse in software have become one of the dominant problems in the entire industry, and anyone suggesting that this is just a "small number" of abuses that don't actually define the current state of the patent system has his or her head up his or her ass.

     

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    Brendan (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There are tens of thousands of nuclear warheads in existence, though only a few have ever been "abused".

    A low rate of use/abuse does not justify the continued existence of a terrible system.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 7:37pm

    Props to that East Texas lawyer for being willing to talk on camera and give a tour of Oasis/Lodsys/etc. Hope they don't kick him out of the fraternity. And thanks to TechDirt for continuing to debunk the IV PR machine. And given the shitload of PR being dished out, I'm okay with MM saying "debunked" all he wants.

    Funny to see the Patently-O failees hanging out here and commenting.

     

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  39.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    Did you miss the rest of the fact that technology moved on from him since he didn't adapt to it?

     

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

  40.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 9:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    " a few bad patents being misused. It's pretty much in the same manner that a few cars are misused by drunks, or pain medication is misused by junkies."

    Yeah, but what is the ratio among SOFTWARE patents?

    Also, perhaps abolishing patents would be a bad idea, perhaps not. It is certainly debatable, and the lion's share of research is not on your side, even if the lion's share of legislation is.

    But I do think this: 'no patents at all' would probably be better than what we have now. The overhead is quite low, the paperwork trivial, and the government interference non-existent. Inventors would lose no time in legal morasses. Inventors wouldn't have to worry about being saddled to pull Myhrvold's Plough. Monopolies would be eliminated, and everyone would have to compete on the next big idea, not the last one.

     

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  41.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 9:33pm

    Re: Re:

    different AC

     

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

  42.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 25th, 2011 @ 9:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    "Only Communists don't want private property rights to extend to the intellectual realm (for a limited time, as in US Constitution"

    I could go find some quotes from Thomas Jefferson about the perils of Intellectual Property, and then ask you "why you think Jefferson was a communist", but I'm too lazy to do your homework for you.

    Call a tutor in India, and they can find it for you.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:03am

    Suffer The Pain

    The economic pain you Americans are going to suffer, because of this, will be immense. You have foolishly destroyed your manufacturing sector, due to the patent system. Now the New York banks are going to make you pay a whole lot higher interest on your excessive national debt. That will mean big federal expenditure cuts. The US government has no alternative but to print money like crazy. The anger of the US electorate will mean that one of the Republican witches will win the next US Presidential election. The witch will make things vastly worse. US unemployment will go way up. The value of the US dollar will plummet. Move your savings into real assets, or overseas, people.

     

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  44.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 1:42am

    We fundamentally disagree - LOL!

     

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

  45.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Jay, I agree, there are a few bad patents being misused.

    Lol, the understatement of the year.

    However, he is unable to explain why there are millions of patents but only a very small number are "abused".

    And you are unable to explain why those are even needed when innovation has been just fine without them.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 2:38am

    The Good News Is ...

    One piece of good news I took away from the podcast is that IV spent way too much of investors’ money buying all those patents, so it has to try to make money from them one way or another. This desperation will manifest itself in more ridiculous patent lawsuits, which will lead to a) at least some of those patents being overturned, and b) a general PR shitstorm, which will in turn lead to investors furiously backpedalling to distance themselves from the company and pull out their money.

    Which will lead to the collapse of IV and leave a lingering bad smell around the whole patent system.

    In short, you can reform the patent system the easy, calm, rational way or the hard, kicking-and-screaming, undignified, painful way, and it seems the vested interests insist on the hard way...

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    staff, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 6:50am

    nonsense

    "Silicon Valley hates patents"

    Yes, we know their and your feelings on it. But do they and you hate all property rights or only those of others? Do you have a title on your car, your house, etc? Do you have a pin on your ATM card?

    You keep writing this nonsense, we'll keep pointing out your mind numbing bias. If Silicon Valley doesn't pay you to write this rubbish, they should.

    The patent bill is nothing less than another monumental federal giveaway for banks, huge multinationals, and China and an off shoring job killing nightmare for America.

    Just because they call it “reform” doesn’t mean it is. Even the leading patent expert in China has stated the bill will help them steal our inventions. Who are the supporters of this bill working for??

    Patent reform is a fraud on America. This bill will not do what they claim it will. What it will do is help large multinational corporations maintain their monopolies by robbing and killing their small entity and startup competitors (so it will do exactly what the large multinationals paid for) and with them the jobs they would have created. Yet small entities create the lion's share of new jobs. According to recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation and economists at the U.S. Census Bureau, “startups aren’t everything when it comes to job growth. They’re the only thing.” This bill is a wholesale slaughter of US jobs. Those wishing to help in the fight to defeat this bill should contact us as below.

    Small entities and inventors have been given far too little voice on this bill when one considers that they rely far more heavily on the patent system than do large firms who can control their markets by their size alone. The smaller the firm, the more they rely on patents -especially startups and individual inventors.

    Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/ for a different/opposing view on patent reform.
    http://docs.piausa.org/

     

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  48.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Re: nonsense

    "do they and you hate all property rights or only those of others? Do you have a title on your car, your house, etc? Do you have a pin on your ATM card?"

    Please, don't be a total idiot and trot out the tired old mistake of conflating property rights on real physical property and so-called "intellectual property" rights on ideas or methods.

    You lost all credibility in your first paragraph, and I didn't care to read what you may have written below it.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    patent litigation, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 7:47pm

    a new approach

    Software patents remain unpopular. But instead of advocating for getting rid of software patents altogether, perhaps concerned parties should begin discussions on how to create a software patent that works for developers. For instance, instead of the usual costly, 20-year patent, maybe it's time for an inexpensive, limited, 5-year software patent that reflects software's low overhead and rapid obsolescence? Some other countries offer multi-tiered patent systems; I think it's time the U.S. started discussions in that area.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    staff, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    NPR (National Propaganda Radio)

    The only thing TAL exposed was their ignorance of patents. A patent's title has nothing to do with what the patent covers. This was a hatchet job of epic proportions. It appears the authors are comfortably in the employ of large banks, tech firms and China who benefit most by trashing the patent system as they are most always the ones sued for patent infringement by small entities.

    NPR (National Propaganda Radio) on the take? Who'd a thunk it.

    “Patent troll”

    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”. This is just dissembling by large infringers to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft.

    Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

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

     

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  51.  
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    CJ (profile), Aug 21st, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    I always thought...

    That a patent meant you had a working business model in place. Apparently not. Shouldn't there be? I think so. If you own the patent, then use it, or sell it to someone that will. No I don't mean suing people is using it. Where is the software, hardware, firmware, etc? Many have the patents but they don't use them except to sue. Would this solve the problem? Not sure. Just a dream of mine I guess.

    The other dream of mine is to get rid of shell owned patents. This little scheme did not take off until around the year 2000. If you get rid of the I can sue you just because "I own" the patent. You instill the model that in order to keep the patent you have to use it, you can't hide behind it either. I think it would also help if the Patent Office can drop patents they later find out to not be well laid out, or not more informative of what the patent is for. They should also be able to drop patents that are found to have multi-patents all related to the same idea.

    On a personal note I believe the patent office owes the public an apology for allowing patents to get out of hand like this. This should of been fixed years ago. Now we have to deal with patent hell. In the meantime the patent office seems to be sitting on their hands saying; "Oh duh".

    another personal note I have no clue the laws patent office has in place. Neither have I read any lately. If they have these type laws...then why the hell aren't they using them?

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Matt, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No, decline is due to manufacturing has moved to China.

    Two examples of how IP wasn't a major concern before mass exodus litigation began in the 90s.

     

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  53.  
    icon
    neseattle (profile), Jun 1st, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    This American Life - Patent Reform, June 1st 2013

    This weeks edition of This American Life...
    496: When Patents Attack...Part Two!
    May 31, 2013
    Two years ago, we did a program about a mysterious business in Texas that threatens companies with lawsuits for violating its patents. But the world of patent lawsuits is so secretive, there were basic questions we could not answer. Now we can. And we get a glimpse why people say our patent system may be discouraging, not encouraging, innovation.
    It will be available to listen for free on Sunday 6-2-13 at 7pm CDT - http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/496/when-patents-attackpart-two

     

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


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