The Problems Of Patent Trolls Continuing To Get Mainstream Attention

from the good-news dept

There's been a recent uptick in stories about patent trolling getting mainstream media attention, and the latest example is a recent segment on CBS's national morning program, CBS This Morning, which explored how patent trolls are hurting the US economy, mainly by focusing on the story of Uniloc suing the maker of X-plane.
When we last wrote about that lawsuit, X-plane developer Laminer Research wasn't sure if it was going to fight the lawsuit, but as you can see in the video above, Laminer's Austin Meyer has decided he's going to fight the case no matter what -- even if it costs him $1.5 million (way more than it would cost to settle). Of course, this is how the trolls operate, by trying to make it cheaper to settle than to fight, but sometimes people have to take a stand and Meyer has decided to do exactly that.

The overall piece is well done, and includes some excellent commentary from the newly appointed Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents, Julie Samuels (though, the segment was apparently put together before she got that title, so she's merely described as the more mortal "EFF staff attorney" in the segment).

Either way, the whole thing demonstrates in a nice capsule just how ridiculous patent trolling is and how prevalent it has become. And, best of all, they really kept repeating the key point: this is hurting innovation in the US. After the segment, done by Jeff Glor, one of the anchors specifically says to him: "So it sounds like this is really stifling innovation and it hurts small businesses!" Yes, yes it is, but for years we've been told no one in the public cares. However, as this issue gets more and more mainstream attention, people are going to realize that it cannot be allowed to continue.


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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 6:02am

    Spelling check. it is Laminar Research not Laminer Research. :-)

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 6:05am

    "cannot be allowed to continue" -- AND YOUR SOLUTION IS?

    Futile complaining, just as is my call for you to present solutions instead of yet more carping.

    How about just one single solitary suggestion, Mike? An idea that you're committed to even if only as a notion. Just one little piece outlining what you're firm on. Come on, you play "fantasy football" all the time, you don't even have any "fantasy economics" to present?

     

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      Machin Shin (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 6:27am

      Re: "cannot be allowed to continue" -- AND YOUR SOLUTION IS?

      Here is one simple suggestion. How about a law stating that if you sue someone for patent infringement and you loose then you are responsible for ALL court cost including paying for other sides legal expenses.

      The result of this will be that over night frivolous lawsuits will vanish. It will make it so that the only people going to court with patent cases are people who are reasonably sure they have a real case.

      If you might end up on the hook for the court costs then your not going to go strutting into court with some worthless patent you twisted and did some advanced yoga moves to try and make look like maybe someone might have possibly infringed on.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 7:12am

        Re: Re: "cannot be allowed to continue" -- AND YOUR SOLUTION IS?

        It isn't enough that should have to pay legal costs if they lose. Too many of theses suing companies could be organized to shield the assets. They should have to post a significant bond toward the loss when they file the suit.

         

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          Machin Shin (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 9:39am

          Re: Re: Re: "cannot be allowed to continue" -- AND YOUR SOLUTION IS?

          Yeah, like I said, it was one simple suggestion. It would probably only be a temporary fix until they did like you said and spawned some shell companies. I think in the end though it would still be a good start as even using shell companies they have something to loose.

           

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      That One Guy (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 6:33am

      To those not OOTB: Sorry for the length of this post

      Are you channeling the spirit of AJ and his 'why won't you debate me?' thing here? Seriously, I'm getting a wicked case of deja vu reading your latest attempt at discrediting anything and everything posted to the site.

      In any case, given I doubt you'll change your tune if possible solutions are presented, I'm not going to go too much out of my way on this, and will only quote a single TD article.

      Here's the article in question:
      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120712/18322919680/judge-posner-mission-to-fix-patents -we-have-some-suggestions.shtml

      And here's the relevant bit, in case clicking through and reading the thing is too difficult for you:

      'Independent invention defense. In his article, he even mentions that copyright already (effectively) has this. Copyright infringement has to involve copying. Patent infringement does not. The fact that so many patent infringement cases involve independent invention is lost on most people who don't understand the system. Adding an independent invention defense would fix a very, very large percentage of the problems with the patent system today.

      Independent invention as evidence of obviousness. This is very similar to the idea above, but slightly more nuanced. Patents are only supposed to be given if something is both new and non-obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art. For the most part, patent examinations focus much more on the "new" part, and not whether the idea is "non-obvious." Some people think that if an idea is new then clearly it's non-obvious, but that's not the case. Often there are obvious ideas that don't go anywhere because the technology/market/etc. just isn't ready yet. But if a number of different people "of ordinary skill in the art" are all coming to the same solution at around the same time, that certainly suggestions the invention itself is an obvious next step, and all such patents should be declared invalid.

      Actually asking those skilled in the art. Patent examiners are often very skilled and highly educated, but they're working in the patent office, not out in the field innovating. It's not as easy as many people think to really keep up on the state of the art if you're not working on it. Just think how many ridiculous patents we see all the time. Many of those bad patents could have been prevented if a patent examiner just went to people in the field and asked them. I know that some people criticize this idea, because they claim that (1) everything looks obvious in hindsight and (2) this will just lead jealous others to insist something is obvious to deny a patent, and then copy the idea themselves. Neither of these are convincing. I'm not saying to just ask, and if someone says it's obvious, the patent is dead. Rather, the patent examiner could ask a few people for an explanation of why it's obvious, and then determine if the reasons are convincing. Already, inventors effectively have "advocates" who argue for them that a patent is valid, so why not create the same sort of thing on the other side -- setting up a true adversarial process -- by seeking out experts who can explain why something may be obvious.

      Get patents going back to the different circuit appeals courts, rather than funneling them all through CAFC. Having a single "patent" appeals court was an experiment, and I think it's clear that it's failed. The court, constantly spending time with patent lawyers, but not with innovators, clearly has an expansionist view of patents, and multiple judges refuse to recognize that patents could have any downside. Spread the cases around a bit, and hopefully you get some more judges who get past the cover story and see the real problems.'


      There, with but a quick search I managed to find four suggestions that Mike has made regarding the patent disaster, and if you actually read the articles on this site, you'd know that they are hardly the only suggestions that have been presented.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 6:42am

        Re: To those not OOTB: Sorry for the length of this post

        We don't mind the length... you're doing God's work.

        (Or the FSM's.)

         

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        Colin, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 7:15am

        Re: To those not OOTB: Sorry for the length of this post

        I will foolishly be waiting on ootb to respond to this. A guy can hope, right?

         

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      RD, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 7:28am

      Re: "cannot be allowed to continue" -- AND YOUR SOLUTION IS?

      "Futile complaining, just as is my call for you to present solutions instead of yet more carping.

      How about just one single solitary suggestion, Mike? An idea that you're committed to even if only as a notion. Just one little piece outlining what you're firm on. Come on, you play "fantasy football" all the time, you don't even have any "fantasy economics" to present?"

      Oh right, because no one else in the history of the web has ever pointed out problems with something without FIRST offering iron-clad suggestions on how to fix it. Just Mike.

      Don't complain about the situation in Syria without first offering a solution, or your complaint is invalid. Right.

      You really are a walking dumbshit. You are so blinded by your hatred of Mike and this site, and by your utter failure at anything creative and lack of talent, that you attack any and all articles by him and then twist and distort your point beyond any reasonable argument. Its pathetically sad. And you are here EVERY DAY with this.

      Get a fucking life, talentless loser.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 7:00am

      Re: Examples of when Mike offered suggestions on fixing patents

      You're wrong. There is only one workable solution. Get rid of it. Period. Screw Perceptional Property. It's all in the mind.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 7:37am

    I will foolishly be waiting on ootb to respond to this.


    Don't bother. It's rare he reads articles, rarer he reads and responds to comments. When he does respond, it's never to add to the general knowledge but rather to cherry pick from a line or two in comments. He won't respond to a full post, much less a long one.

    Just hit the report button and move on, nothing to see here.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    1:24
    So wait... he is being sued... for DRM software... he didnt even write. Madness.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    These patent extortion rackets need to be made illegal.

     

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