Is Getting Sued For Patent Infringement The Equivalent Of Frat Hazing For A Growing Tech Company?

from the only-more-destructive dept

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda's first column in his new job at the Washington Post (I'm still trying to make sense of this myself) is a good one. He looks at the Yahoo patent lawsuit against Facebook, and posits that getting sued on your way to an IPO is like a Silicon Valley fraternity hazing ritual. He doesn't go quite this far, but there certainly are some similarities. It's an insanely pointless process with significant costs, often disgusting to those going through it... but which they eventually grudgingly admit is worth going through to get to the end goal of being "in the club." I'm not sure it's totally true of just IPO-bound tech companies. I think it's just the nature of just about any semi-successful tech company these days. You get sued for patent infringement. It's just what happens. And it's there where the analogy falls down a bit. You can avoid fraternity hazing by not pledging a fraternity. You have no such choice when it comes to getting sued for patent infringement.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:37am

    Normal people don't see it that way though.

    Quote:
    Last week a large, profitable company sued a small start-up business for patent infringement. As a non-legal person, I can only guess that this sort of thing must happen fairly often. I would also guess that the large companies, which have the means to hire crackerjack legal teams and drag cases out, must often win. And while I guess I feel bad for the small businesses, Iíve never really cared before now.
    Because this time, the stakes are high.

    This time, itís my daughterís voice on the line. Literally.

    http://niederfamily.blogspot.com/2012/03/goliath-v-david-aac-style.html

     

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  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:56am

    It keeps the lawyers busy and earning their keep.

    It has been shown time and time again to just be another tool to stifle innovation and new ideas. I wonder if anyone has ever looked into the history of companies being killed by the patent infringement lawsuit and the patent holder actually doing anything with the new method they found.

    We hear all the time about the trolls who produce nothing with the patents they control, I think it really is time to consider having them do something with it or lose it. Much like singers, actors, writers, etc they have an idea and they have to make something from it. Some then sit in wait hoping someone will do something similar they can sue over, others just keep making new things. It benefits the world nothing to have the ideas locked away, or to punish those people who find a new way to do something real with an idea they arrived at on their own that we decided only 1 person is allowed to think up.

     

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  3.  
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    Digital Consumer (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:13am

    So I was talking to a family member the other day about the Facebook employer login issue.

    She seemed to think it was okay, and I understand her single perspective, as she is a small business employer, and a bad employee can be devastating to a small business.

    Unfortunately, she didn't see the big picture of how this type of entitlement from employers ties into all the other rights we are losing month by month from big corporate interests backed by big government.

    What is next? Employers scheduling interviews at your house so they can see how you live? Maybe they need to interview your spouse and kids too. Maybe they need a list of ex-girlfriends and ex-wives to really get a picture of who you are.

    So just like being a digital consumer, or consumer of media in general, being a job applicant is the equivalent of being a thief or potential criminal of some type, and should be treated as such.

    Our whole society is getting numb to the idea of not having due process, or being considered guilty until you have fought tooth and nail to prove your innocence. Why should the innocent struggle to name themselves?

    Why can the authorities not take the burden of proving guilt, as is their job? Year after year they throw out fear words such as "terrorist", "pirate", "violent criminal", and
    "socialist"(see what I did thar?). With these words they strip your rights and offer you false securities.

    Do you think if a terrorist that wanted to blow something up
    and had millions of dollars, they would fall into these FBI traps? They keep grabbing these young angry kids who never would have had the resources to actually do anything and encourage them and offer them resources that they would not have had on their own, and when they cross the line, bam, there is another victory!

    In the end though, there are no victories for the American people with these scapegoat tactics, this fear mongering. It is too the point where the only Americans willing to fight already work for the government, and we have internet activists who think that their hitting a petition button online will have any long term effect on our governments way of doing business.

    I am part of the problem. I work 60 hours a week, and juggle
    my 4 year old with my wife who also works full time as we barely get by, and I am unwilling to pursue my beliefs in a physical sense. I am afraid that my own cowardice will bind my son into slavery or force my son to be on the front lines
    of freedom because I did not act an American should.

    I do not have a comprehensive solution to our government and the claws of special interest that make our laws and steal our opportunities and our rights. I try to ignore the fear in my gut on a daily basis of the weight of our problems.

    I feel guilty about the sacrifices I am not yet willing to make to shape our country. In reality, although I say America, and I say our country, I really mean our world.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:16am

    There I think about it the less I see a future for IP laws.

    Energy security will depend on the grid today being distributed to be resilient against natural disasters and war, I can't see one large entity supplying all the energy for everyone being something desirable.

    With technology also comes progress and people gain new capabilities, those people could have a chance to do something if they wasn't excluded from a market.

    IP laws are the new #1 public enemy.

    Who cares about what companies patented when they use that to send jobs overseas when there are people inside the country who would be willing to do the same job even if it was just to stay employed.

     

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  5.  
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    fairusefriendly (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:16am

    I think the issue is going public or not that is being compared to joining the frat or not. You do have a choice in that case. While you might get sued without going public, the lack of scrutiny/time sensitivity means you can fight the bogus patent.

     

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  6.  
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    Cowardly Anon, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:41am

    You can avoid fraternity hazing by not pledging a fraternity. You have no such choice when it comes to getting sued for patent infringement.

    You don't have a choice?! Come now Mike, you have the choice to not make a successful tech company. You have the choice not to innovate and to accept the status quo without knocking the big names off their guard.

    If you choose to move forward with technological advancements that disrupt the status quo, then you have made the choice to get sued!

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:45am

    Isn't "Hazing" the college word for "bullying"? Doesn't "Online bullying" not exist? Case solved.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:57am

    Re:

    Wow, at first I was gonna dis you and then, I realized you sort of make sense in a sideways way. I think though that this is a case of wanting to start your IPO and introduce a new product/service would benifit us all. It's a crime against socity that any advance in tech or services is lost due to being sued out of existance.
    And what about the lost jobs issue? We talk about the *AA's losing business due to IP infringment but what about small business, which is the motivator to cities and communities thriving, which are sued out of existance? I sense that this is the greater loss in the bigger pictuer.

    Man, I think I just gave an respectible reply to a troll. I don't feel so good...

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re:

    I applogize for the spelling mistakes. Need more caffine.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 7:39am

    Re:

    So empowering bad behavior is cool now?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 7:42am

    Re:

    Youtube: Toilet Snorkel patent

    If a snorkel selling firm disrupts the market for toilet snorkels they should expect to be sued?

     

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  12.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    Maya is one of the innocents caught in this over enforcement of patents in the software field. I have no idea if the small company that made the app that your daughter and family now rely on so heavily to give her a voice searched to see if there was a patent in place on their idea/refinement or if they're now faced with something similar to one of those non-performing software patents that claims to do just about anything possible since the Big Bang.

    I can't tell if the bigger companies made even a token attempt to negotiate with the smaller one or just hammered them with legal papers.

    Though an example like this may not happen often, though more often that I know of, it does show the amorality of the knee jerk reaction to "defending" IP without considering the consequences. It's almost sociopathic in situations like this.

    Patents are worth more than people, it seems. Particularly those with no voice, in this case quite literally.

     

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  13.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 9:01am

    Bigness corrupts

    My concern is that when companies get big enough to have the money/influence to change the system in their favor, that's what they do. It doesn't matter what industry they are in, they still look for ways to eliminate the competition.

    The Ruthless Overlords Of Silicon Valley - The Daily Beast

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Is infringing upon the intelligence property rights of a predecessor the only way to start a technology company? Hey Mike you need to get some new schtick and try going after a new market. Successful tech start ups are few and far between these days, not because of IP lawsuits but because of stiff competition.

     

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  15.  
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    slander (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 4:37pm

    getting sued on your way to an IPO is like a Silicon Valley fraternity hazing ritual


    He used that as an example, instead of a car analogy? Oh, how the mighty have fallen...

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Ronald J Riley, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 7:23am

    Don't do the crime.

    "You can avoid fraternity hazing by not pledging a fraternity. You have no such choice when it comes to getting sued for patent infringement."

    Typical TechDIRT Drivel. One can avoid getting sued by not filching others patent properties.

     

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