Exposing The Patent Troll Playbook… And How To (Almost) Beat It

from the this-is-innovation? dept

We’ve written about patent hoarding firm RTI before, back when it sued Google. At the time, we pointed to Rich Tehrani’s fantastic article about the company and how it was basically one guy who claimed his rather narrow patents covered pretty much everything having to do with VoIP. Pretty much any company of any substantial size that had anything to do with VoIP had been on the receiving end of threats and/or lawsuits from RTI.

Now, Joe Mullin points us to an absolutely fantastic description from the CEO of Fonality exposing RTI’s patent badgering techniques — and how Fonality fought back and (almost) won. The “almost” part is the sad part. In the end, they still paid the guy a little bit of money, though it was significantly less than what he had been asking for (and what he had sued them for). And, tragically, this plays into RTI’s game plan as well — as part of his initial pitch is sending over a list of all the other companies who have settled over these patents, which makes plenty of companies feel that since those other companies “settled” then it wasn’t worth fighting and they might as well settle too. This is unfortunate.

But at least the post describes how to push back on his various claims. Here’s a short excerpt, but it’s worth reading the whole thing:

It was then that Jimmy enacted the second part of the classic troll playbook. Peer pressure. Jimmy started to list (and provide documentation to support) literally hundreds of other “big” companies that had already settled with him over this same patent. Heck, it seemed like everyone from AT&T to Cisco was on this list. A sustained bout of queasiness settled over me. Yikes, if they couldn’t beat this guy, what chance did I have? He even told us how he had sued the mighty Google for $5B!…

But, then a funny thing happened. When we asked him *how* much he had settled for, he wouldn’t tell us. Nor did asking “the Google” (you know, that series of interconnected pipes) help us much. There just seemed to be a dearth of information on either settlement amounts or terms. Did they settle for a million dollars? A billion? A free iPod? An agreement not to mention that they settled for zero? Well, heck, if nobody was writing about it, and Jimmy wasn’t boasting about it, it probably wasn’t much to boast about anyway. So, when my lawyers called and asked us if we were ready to settle, I did what every strong leader does in a moment of crisis. I put the call on speakerphone, crawled under my desk, and cowered with hands over head. It was from that towering position of omniscience that I gave the proud warrior cry to “fight on!”

Hopefully more folks will start exposing some of the sneakier tactics used in patent infringement lawsuits — and how to fight back as well.

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Companies: fonality, rti

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Comments on “Exposing The Patent Troll Playbook… And How To (Almost) Beat It”

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77 Comments
Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

More and more we see those whose sticky fingers have been smashed for stealing from other’s patent cookie jars conducting postmortem PR (dare I say propaganda) campaigns. These campaigns are nothing more than an attempt to cover and rationalize their thieving ways.

And then we have hordes of shills and stooges who try and rationalize this kind of conduct.

When you see companies like AT&T and Google settling you can be sure that they have scoured the earth looking for prior art and come up empty handed.

Let me make this really simple, there was no “proud warrior” at Fonality. What we had was a pirate. The proud warrior was at RTI who was forced to take on and destroy a hoard of marauding bandits.

Mike, perhaps at some point you can describe your upbringing. I would love to hear about and understand the environment and or genetic issues which have crippled your critical thinking skills. It must be very difficult going through life with a handicap of this magnitude.

Ronald J. Riley,

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

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Re:

Hi, Ronnie J.! We missed you! Because no matter what we say or mispell, we look better by comparision next to you. Thanks.

When you see companies like AT&T and Google settling you can be sure that they have scoured the earth looking for prior art and come up empty handed.

Please show me your evidence for this statement. I want to know every time they settled and what thier investigation covered prior to the settlement. (Which, of course, is information you don’t have.)

If you can settle for $1000.00, then you don’t have to have three attorneys at $200.00 per hour (really, probably more for a Google lawyer) go to court for hours to file anything for you, speak to the judge on your behalf, find any information for you, or do anything else. Economically, it’s way cheaper to pay the grand and move on.

If you are speaking on your own behalf, then what do your affiliations matter? Besides thier obvious usefulness in showing everyone what an asshat you are…

Bye, Ronnie J.!

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

More and more we see those whose sticky fingers have been smashed for stealing from other’s patent cookie jars conducting postmortem PR (dare I say propaganda) campaigns. These campaigns are nothing more than an attempt to cover and rationalize their thieving ways.

Ronald, we’ve asked you this before, though you’ve declined to answer: can you explain why someone doing something they came up with entirely independently, and which makes perfect sense for their own business should be considered a “thief”?

When you see companies like AT&T and Google settling you can be sure that they have scoured the earth looking for prior art and come up empty handed.

No, you can be pretty sure that they made a cost-benefit calculation, and realized it was cheaper to settle than to go to court. That’s what rational people do. And that’s what companies like RTI count on so that they can include those names on their “settled” list. It’s nice to see Fonality call them on it.

Let me make this really simple, there was no “proud warrior” at Fonality. What we had was a pirate. The proud warrior was at RTI who was forced to take on and destroy a hoard of marauding bandits.

Yes, and what has RTI contributed to the economy? What has Fonality contributed to the economy?

One company has had a positive impact. The other has simply sucked money out of it.

Mike, perhaps at some point you can describe your upbringing. I would love to hear about and understand the environment and or genetic issues which have crippled your critical thinking skills. It must be very difficult going through life with a handicap of this magnitude.

And, an RJR post would never be complete without a personal insult.

Mr. Riley, I had an excellent upbringing from a family who taught me the power of critical thinking, and why personal insults are no substitute for reasoned thinking.

stv says:

stop the shilling!!!

All this talk about “patent trolls” is pure hype. If you will look at the 1898 Rude et al. v. Westcott et al. SCOTUS case [130 US 152, 9 S Ct 463, 32 L Ed 888] you will see that at least since 1874 inventors have been selling and partnering with other parties to enforce their patents. Without doing so, few inventors can afford to enforce their patents, meaning larger competitors can easily beat them out of the market they created and run them into bankruptcy. Therefore, all this present day discussion of “trolls” is a hoax whose only intent is deny inventors any profit from their creations. Simply put, its intent is to legalize theft.

These inventor antagonists rail against firms who license patents they do not themselves commercialize, yet many of the large firms who are most critical of the practice do it themselves. Out licensing is now an important profit center of most every firm. Often, as a result they end up licensing out patents covering technologies they themselves do not use as they are not consistent with their corporate plan. Rather hypocritical isn’t it?

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

The only thing “sneaky” about it is that these big firms who time and again rob small entities plant moles masquerading as journalists to spread their propaganda. Why wont you come clean and be out front about it. I nominate you as shill of the month.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: stop the shilling!!!

stv, in the past, I have kindly asked you to explain why you insist that anyone who disagrees with you is “shilling.” Your response was that a shill is anyone who takes a biased position.

At which point I pointed out that you are obviously a shill yourself, since you have a biased position on this topic.

All this talk about “patent trolls” is pure hype. If you will look at the 1898 Rude et al. v. Westcott et al. SCOTUS case [130 US 152, 9 S Ct 463, 32 L Ed 888] you will see that at least since 1874 inventors have been selling and partnering with other parties to enforce their patents.

stv, who said that we defined a patent troll as a partner of a company? It’s a nice way to change the subject, but it’s incorrect. In general, we see a patent troll as someone enforcing a *questionable* patent against a company that actually innovated.

Are you in favor of companies who do nothing enforcing *bad* patents against companies that actually do something?

I’m curious to see how you could think that’s a good thing.

Without doing so, few inventors can afford to enforce their patents, meaning larger competitors can easily beat them out of the market they created and run them into bankruptcy.

This is a myth, as we’ve pointed out. History has tons of examples of smaller, less well capitalized companies beating much larger competitors.

Therefore, all this present day discussion of “trolls” is a hoax whose only intent is deny inventors any profit from their creations. Simply put, its intent is to legalize theft.

Well, first, it is important to understand the difference between theft and infringement, though I know you don’t believer there is one.

A question: do you believe that if two people totally independently come up with the same idea, one should not be allowed to use the idea?

These inventor antagonists rail against firms who license patents they do not themselves commercialize, yet many of the large firms who are most critical of the practice do it themselves. Out licensing is now an important profit center of most every firm. Often, as a result they end up licensing out patents covering technologies they themselves do not use as they are not consistent with their corporate plan. Rather hypocritical isn’t it?

Yes, it is rather hypocritical, if the complaint is only about companies that don’t produce anything. But it’s not. The complaint is about BAD patents that are used in an OVERLY BROAD MANNER. Take that into account and the story is a bit different.

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

Actually, that’s rarely the case, and I would think you would understand that. What it USUALLY means is “I’ve come up with a good idea all by myself… and now someone who came up with a very different idea but which he claims covers my idea is suing me…” That’s not about “stealing” an idea.

The only thing “sneaky” about it is that these big firms who time and again rob small entities plant moles masquerading as journalists to spread their propaganda. Why wont you come clean and be out front about it. I nominate you as shill of the month.

And again, you accuse me of this at least once a week, and repeatedly, I have “come clean.” We do no public policy work. We receive no payments from companies for these posts.

You keep insisting otherwise, and I keep asking you for proof or to apologize. Yet, you keep insisting the same thing.

Funny how you seem unable to back up a single sentence in what you accuse me of. For someone so insistent on “law and order” I would think you would understand the meaning of defamation.

Perry Mason (profile) says:

Re: Settlement amounts

Chris,
Very well said by perhaps someone that knows whereof he/she speaks. I don’t quite understand how the tactics employed by the patent holder would be considered sneaky or underhanded by anyone. If a court battle seems to be imminent from a particular quarter, why would any attorney in their right mind want to discuss damages or appeasement payment amounts with the adversarial attorney? It is somewhat like asking a fellow employee how much they are getting paid, and expecting them to immediately tell you just because they want you to.

Cheers,
Perry Mason

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

Re: Re: Settlement amounts

If the patents are above boards, there should be no concern about revealing the amounts, particularly when it comes to the courts attempting to establish the value of the invention.

And we are talking in the context of a lawsuit. AFAIK, once you file, all bets are off and ANY tactic is good if it’s not illegal and results in the outcome desired.

That said, IANAL, nor do I pretend to be. I also don’t have any patents.

Chris

Perry Mason (profile) says:

Mike,
It seems to me as if the use of the terms “patent hoarder” or “patent trolls” is perhaps just a negative insinuation about the motives of those that *own* things, be it Intellectual Property in this case, or Real Estate Property, for instance, or maybe even just money.
Is the fact that they are acquiring valuable property such an evil thing? Are the real estate development folks doing something ominous or unfair? They invested time and/or money into building valuable assets, so why shouldn’t Real or Intellectual Property owners be allowed to profit from their efforts? The only recourse both currently seem to have is suing the stealing/infringing parties, which Very rarely happens in Real Estate (stealing), but is Way too common in the case of Intellectual Property (infringement) in my opinion.
Am I to believe that large IT companies don’t even care enough to do a reasonably comprehensive patent search before they start marketing products to the public? THAT would be a very bad business decision to my way of thinking, unless the company just decided that they could destroy the patent instead, and leave the inventor out in the cold because they have a large budget. I wish I could have been a spider on the wall when Microsoft, et al discovered that they couldn’t just buy whatever verdict they liked, and were ordered to pay 1.5 Billion in damages for being a thief (infringement) They slithered out of most of it on appeal, but the fact still remains that they were apparently intentionally infringing on a valid patent granted by the USPTO.
I really don’t quite understand your assertion that if an invention were to be devoloped at nearly the same time in more than one place, that all parties are entitled to do whatever they like. If one of the inventors can prove that they were the First to Invent, (as is the case in the US exclusively) usually via a granted patent, why shouldn’t they be allowed to profit from their invention for a limited time?
Perhaps it might be useful if you could endeavor to explain to us all what a *Bad* patent is. How about newborn children? Because the child has health or intelligence issues, would they be considered *Bad*, and maybe abolished?

Zeig heil!
Perry Mason

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It seems to me as if the use of the terms “patent hoarder” or “patent trolls” is perhaps just a negative insinuation about the motives of those that *own* things, be it Intellectual Property in this case, or Real Estate Property, for instance, or maybe even just money.

If you can’t understand the difference between owning a concept or a process and owning scarce real estate, then I would suggest you may want to learn the difference before commenting here.

You should not be able to own an idea or a process or a method. There is no scarcity that requires ownership.

Is the fact that they are acquiring valuable property such an evil thing?

It is not “property.” It is a monopoly that blocks others from doing things.

Are the real estate development folks doing something ominous or unfair?

Real estate is a scarce property, so a developer is doing something very reasonable. But that’s *quite* different than blocking someone from moving forward with a product.

You seem VERY confused over the differences between a scarce good and something that is infinite, such as an idea, process or method.

Again, I would suggest understanding the difference before commenting further.

They invested time and/or money into building valuable assets, so why shouldn’t Real or Intellectual Property owners be allowed to profit from their efforts?

No one is saying they shouldn’t be allowed to profit from their efforts. I don’t know why you would suggest we had said something like that.

My question is why OTHERS should be NOT ALLOWED to profit from THEIR OWN efforts. All RTI has done in this case is tried to prevent another company from profiting from its efforts. I have no problem with RTI profiting from its efforts: and it should do so by providing a product in the market and letting the market decide. Preventing others from bringing products to market is an unqualified problem.

The only recourse both currently seem to have is suing the stealing/infringing parties, which Very rarely happens in Real Estate (stealing), but is Way too common in the case of Intellectual Property (infringement) in my opinion.

You are an extremely confused individual. The reason you do not see it happening in real property is, again, because it is a scarce good with clear property lines. When it comes to a process, we are talking about something that multiple people are coming up with independently. It is non-rivalrous, unlike real property — and thus, there is no “stealing” at all. It is simply two separate companies trying to serve a market, and one is preventing the other from doing so.

That is a huge problem.

Am I to believe that large IT companies don’t even care enough to do a reasonably comprehensive patent search before they start marketing products to the public?

Yes, you should believe that because most IT companies know that if they are caught having done such a search it results in triple damages. Most larger firms forbid such patent searches.

But, again, that is besides the point. We’re talking about a smaller company, not a “large IT company” and we’re talking about a company that came up with something totally independently, and the patent in question would have to be read in a really twisted manner to conclude that Fonality infringes.

THAT would be a very bad business decision to my way of thinking, unless the company just decided that they could destroy the patent instead, and leave the inventor out in the cold because they have a large budget.

Except, as you must know, the fact that treble damages for willful infringement actually makes it a very smart business decision.

What’s a bad business decision is wasting millions on patents when independent invention SHOULD represent a clear case of non-infringement.

I really don’t quite understand your assertion that if an invention were to be devoloped at nearly the same time in more than one place, that all parties are entitled to do whatever they like. If one of the inventors can prove that they were the First to Invent, (as is the case in the US exclusively) usually via a granted patent, why shouldn’t they be allowed to profit from their invention for a limited time?

Are you really having trouble understanding that? Why should I be prevented from offering my product in the market because I came up with it seconds after someone else?

You complained earlier in this comment about why should an inventor be prevented from earning money from their invention — and yet, here, you are saying it’s fine for an inventor to be prevented from earning money from their invention if that invention comes 1 second after someone else’s.

You seem to be taking an extremely hypocritical position, claiming that no one should be prevented from profiting from their invention, and then immediately saying otherwise.

I, on the other hand, believe that no one should be prevented from profiting from their invention, and that means letting them compete *in the marketplace* to see who has done a better job innovating (not inventing). The market decides what’s best, and everyone benefits.

Why you think we should harm the rest of the market by limiting it to only products from those who came first, rather than those who can provide the best product (i.e., SLOWING DOWN the innovation process), I cannot fathom.

Perhaps it might be useful if you could endeavor to explain to us all what a *Bad* patent is.

A bad patent is one that slows innovation by preventing others from innovating.

How about newborn children? Because the child has health or intelligence issues, would they be considered *Bad*, and maybe abolished?

You are a sick man if you believe that. I’m not sure what that has to do with the rest of your comment.

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Mikey doesn’t know shit about patents

The right to “exlude others from making, using, offering for sale etc.” is the fundamental right behind a patent.

In fact, it’s written on a front page of each issued US Patent and signed by the PTO Director – in my case by the dude named Jon Dudas

Of course, the dude’s signature doesn’t mean shit, but that’s another story

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I would just ignore all these trolls”

Little techdirt punk,

Please keep in mind that at least some of these “trolls” you are talking about have outstanding credentials, but for obvious reasons do not want to disclose their real names on this shitty blog…

Have a nice night, punky

Mr Big Content says:

Re: Re: Re:2 ANGRY DUDE

Please keep in mind that at least some of these “trolls” you are talking about have outstanding credentials, but for obvious reasons do not want to disclose their real names on this shitty blog…

Amen, brother. I know exactly how you feel. Having some pretty outstanding credentials myself, I can spot the signs of someone after my own heart a mile off. It brings tears to my eyes to think what you must be going through!

To the rest of you ignorant ingrates, let’s just say it’s a real fuck to be unappreciated, let me tell you…

Yours sincerely,

Mr Big “Not a Troll” Content

eleete (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 ANGRY DUDE

“To the rest of you ignorant ingrates, let’s just say it’s a real fuck to be unappreciated, let me tell you…”

Perhaps you should try to see the other point of view. People do, and should be allowed to, oppose your view of a strict patent system. Should we all stifle ourselves and only allow your opinion to be heard? Doesn’t sound like a country I would appreciate. You obviously come here quite often. What forces you to?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 ANGRY DUDE

eleete: Don’t feed the obvious troll.

angry dude I don’t consider a troll. He has no flair, no style. He doesn’t say anything humorous when looked at strictly as a “troll post.”

angry dude is nothing more than a jackass who willfully misquotes people. Chances are he works at FOX news. By all means denounce him.

He is clumsy, stupid, and annoying. Everyone feels better ripping in to him.

“Mr Big Content” is the real troll, and even better he was trolling the jackass this time and satirically pointing out how silly other people’s view points are. But don’t feed him. He’s the real troll.

– Internet Veteran

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Re:5 ANGRY DUDE

“angry dude is nothing more than a jackass who willfully misquotes people. Chances are he works at FOX news. By all means denounce him.”

Dude, I hate FOX “news” as much as you do, and then a little more….
Until recently I used to be in the democratic camp voting strictly for one party (just like the rest of more or less educated folks in NJ)
The patent “reform” scandal on the Capitol Hill was an eye opener for me
No , I did not become a republican
But the so-called “democrats” who voted to crash small tech startups in America are not democrats at all – they are corporate stooges, just like the author of this shitty blog

Amen dude
See you in hell

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Re:6 ANGRY DUDE

Until recently I used to be in the democratic camp voting strictly for one party

Well, at least we now understand your take on critical thinking and a reasoned approach to the subject.

So you believe that anyone that slaps on a donkey cap represents one set of beliefs and values and will fight in the interests of their constituents towards those?

Heck, why bother even having debates and conventions?

mobiGeek says:

Re: Mikey for US Senate !

Seriously dude,

Why don’t you drop this shitty blog from your bookmarks and just go away?

If you aren’t going to put out a SINGLE reasoned argument and just thrash around insults, accusations and innuendo, you are doing no one a favour and simply wasting your own precious time.

Don’t you have patents to go sue people over or something else important to do?

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

How To Really Hurt Patent Trolls

The cheapest thing you can do to ruin a patent troll’s whole day is to institute a prior art search on every patent he owns, or may come to own, whether under a false/changed name, or whatever. As the saying goes, don’t do anything to him that he wouldn’t do to you. You go along to the local university, and visit the Law School, and the History and Political Science departments, maybe some others, with a view to hiring students. There are people in Economics departments who do Economic History. There are even a surprising number of people in English departments, who are, de facto, doing history of technology. So ask around. Find someone on the faculty to advise you about administrative details, and to serve as a kind of local recruiting agent. You schedule the work around the students’ convenience, of course, and get your professor-contact to manage it. He can also insulate the students from the businessman ethic. The good liberal arts students, the graduate students and the kind of undergraduates who resemble graduate students, aren’t businessmen, and they don’t want to be. A lot of them will have even longer hair than Richard M. Stallman. You run the operation like an open-source project, based on converging interests. You should pay about the same rates as Google Summer of Code, or maybe a bit more, because a lot of the graduate students are older, married, and starting families. Historians get better with age, like wine. Say, $10,000 for a summer’s work, that ought to be about right. Liberal Arts graduate students are very hard workers, and you will probably get rather more than forty hours a week for that. I realize that for the businessmen here, that will seem a ludicrously small sum, but around a university, it is a good deal of money. You send your researchers out to read old trade magazines, etc., especially those before about 1970, because that is when computer indexing started up. There will be a lot of stuff which isn’t in any databases.

Once you start digging stuff up, you publish it, complete with references to patent numbers, on the internet, where anyone who needs it can find it. You do not negotiate with the patent troll about this. You just do it, and refuse to talk about it. If you once get a reputation for doing this, patent trolls will give you a wide berth for obvious reasons. Now, employing patent lawyers is more expensive than employing graduate students, of course. You will have to use your own judgment about how much of your prior art you submit as requests for reexamination.

Director Mitch (user link) says:

Is there abuse in the patent system? Yes.

Is there abuse in (name human system here)? Yes.

There is no human organization or set-up where there is not abuse or problems. The issue is how much you modify the system to reduce the abuse while still protecting those the system was meant to protect.

For example, there are far more people abusing civil rights lawsuits and worker’s comp claims than “patent trolls”. The solution for abuse in these cases isn’t to repeal civil rights statutes or workers comp, but to decrease the incentives for abuse; raise the risk-reward ratio.

For patents, Mike’s solution is to upend everything. But he would create far more problems than he fixes. He would get the satisfaction of killing “trolls”, but would create even worse monsters.

These articles are pretty routine here – showcase a horror story and hold it up how everything is wrong and should change completely (the MSM also does this with poverty, crime, etc.). Throw in some slanted wording (“troll”). But it does make for more interesting reading than a detailed risk/reward analysis and detailed discussion of statute and case law.

Perry Mason (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Director Mitch,
The latest failed attempt at a *Patent Reform Act* is nearly exactly what you describe, were *they* to have their way. The trick seems to be discovering just who *they* are. The US patent system has been extant for something like 216 years and has been working just fine, thank you, to spur innovation, and suddenly it seems as if all the techies want to change it to suit their whims? We most likely wouldn’t be corresponding right now, unless a few young upstarts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were granted a few patents by the USPTO, which allowed them to build Microsoft and Apple.
I happen to be an independent inventor, so the radical reducton of the value of US patents is of great concern to me, or any patents for that matter.
“The pump don’t work, because the vandals took the handle” (Bob Dylan)

Best wishes,
Perry Mason

Mordred (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The latest failed attempt at a *Patent Reform Act* is nearly exactly what you describe, were *they* to have their way. The trick seems to be discovering just who *they* are. The US patent system has been extant for something like 216 years and has been working just fine, thank you, to spur innovation, and suddenly it seems as if all the techies want to change it to suit their whims? We most likely wouldn’t be corresponding right now, unless a few young upstarts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were granted a few patents by the USPTO, which allowed them to build Microsoft and Apple.
I happen to be an independent inventor, so the radical reducton of the value of US patents is of great concern to me, or any patents for that matter.”

Microsoft got big not by making patents, but by putting different idea’s from other systems and using it in their own, the exact thing you are preaching against.

I havea good idea about what a good patent would be, if a small company would put a product on the market wich is inovative, and another company tries to copy it, it would only be reasonable that the copy cat has to pay parts of the profit to the creator of the idea,

what I think as a bad patent is where someone makes an idea. but instead of building a product or trying to develop the idea file a patent then keep quet till someone else has the same idea, and then profit off this persons efforts.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m not sure what you think that Bill or Steve have offered towards this correspondence, but I’m quite certain that your concept of technology history is inaccurate at best.

The Internet and online communication was underway many years before a PC or a Mac was able to join TCP/IP networking. Many people interact on the ‘net every single day and don’t depend on a single “invention” of Microsoft or Apple.

I’m not sure what you mean by your being an “independent inventor”. I’d be very interested to understand your current business model and your perception of how and when patents promote progress for you and your field.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

For example, there are far more people abusing civil rights lawsuits and worker’s comp claims than “patent trolls”. The solution for abuse in these cases isn’t to repeal civil rights statutes or workers comp, but to decrease the incentives for abuse; raise the risk-reward ratio.

Mitch, I’m all for “reforming” the patent system if you could come up with one that does not hinder innovation. So far, I have yet to see a patent system that does not. But if you can come up with one, I’d love to see it.


For patents, Mike’s solution is to upend everything. But he would create far more problems than he fixes. He would get the satisfaction of killing “trolls”, but would create even worse monsters.

My interest is not in “killing trolls.” My interest is in encouraging innovation. Anything that does so is a plus in my book. So far, the evidence suggests that the patent system hinders, rather than encourages, innovation.

These articles are pretty routine here – showcase a horror story and hold it up how everything is wrong and should change completely

No, that’s simply untrue, and I wish you would retract such a false statement. I do show horror stories, but I also show heaps upon heaps of economic research and historical evidence about how patent systems *as a whole* hinder innovation. The individual stories show why that happens, but the research and overall evidence explain it on a macro level.

For you to suggest I have not explained the macro level research and am solely extrapolating from single examples is an outright falsehood.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

NO evidence of critical thinking.

“Are you in favor of companies who do nothing enforcing *bad* patents against companies that actually do something?”

Remember Mike, I am an inventor who has butted heads with more than one patent pirating company.

Lets see how this goes. An inventor takes their invention to all who will listen in the hope of licensing their invention. The company sucks as much free information as they can get out of the inventor and then announces they are not interested.

A year or so later the company introduces an infringing product. They claim that they thought of the invention independently. They claim the inventor committed fraud to get the patent. They claim it is a “bad” patent and that the inventor or the inventor’s agent is a vicious patent troll who waylaid them without warning.

The inventor administers an attitude adjustment with the help of the court. The infringer then conducts a massive media campaign in an attempt convince everyone that the inventor did nothing of value.

What the inventor did was create the invention and teach society their invention.

One last point, I see NO evidence that your family taught you “critical” thinking skills.

You are an effective writer and a PR hack. Your expertise is in spewing propaganda.

Ronald J. Riley,

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

Mike (profile) says:

Re: NO evidence of critical thinking.

Remember Mike, I am an inventor who has butted heads with more than one patent pirating company.

Have I claimed otherwise? I’m not sure what that has to do with the rest of the discussion, other than it demonstrates your biases.

Lets see how this goes. An inventor takes their invention to all who will listen in the hope of licensing their invention. The company sucks as much free information as they can get out of the inventor and then announces they are not interested.

Well, why would the inventor go out and try to license it, rather than actually bringing a product to market?

A year or so later the company introduces an infringing product. They claim that they thought of the invention independently. They claim the inventor committed fraud to get the patent. They claim it is a “bad” patent and that the inventor or the inventor’s agent is a vicious patent troll who waylaid them without warning.

I’m curious, Mr. Riley, why you would use such a scenario, when almost every single case that we describe is not like this at all. In fact, the scenario that resulted in this post above is MUCH more common: i.e., Fonality had never even heard of RTI, had no knowledge of its patents at all, and was simply working hard to bring a product to market.

Yet, rather than respond to that all-too-common scenario, you make up a scenario that happens rarely, but occasionally, and pretend that is the norm.

Does this mean I should conclude that despite your personal attacks on me here, you do NOT think Fonality did anything wrong here?

What the inventor did was create the invention and teach society their invention.

And, in this case, clearly the so-called “inventor” did not teach Fonality a damn thing. So why are you so in favor of punishing the real innovator?

One last point, I see NO evidence that your family taught you “critical” thinking skills.

You can insult my family all you want. It simply confirms my point: when you have no logical argument, you resort to personal insults.

My family taught me better than to act in such a manner.

You are an effective writer and a PR hack. Your expertise is in spewing propaganda.

Mr. Riley, I have asked you to clarify this odd contradictory statement in the past, and you have refused to do so. How is “effective” if I am only spewing propaganda. After all, propaganda is easily disproved with effective evidence.

Yet, so far, the only person who has presented evidence has been me. You, on the other hand, have neglected to provide any evidence, instead relying on personal insults directed at me and my family, and made up stories of scenarios that have nothing to do with the story at hand.

If the power of truth is on your side, why not present effective evidence against my “propaganda”? I am more than willing to engage in a debate — but, as my family taught me, a debate should focus on actual evidence and facts, and not lies and insults.

Present your evidence or admit that you have none.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: NO evidence of critical thinking.

Just so we can be sure. Those email addresses are:

RJR@PIAUSA.org
RJR@InvEd.org

Just can’t be too sure. Is that right?

You really should stop commenting here. Every time you type, you prove that you’re a complete jackass. The author of this blog didn’t insult you, yet you insult him (and everyone else who reads this blog) with every post. Go join angry dude in his mother’s basement.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

"wide berth for obvious reasons"

“If you once get a reputation for doing this, patent trolls will give you a wide berth for obvious reasons.”

This is an example of the quality of advice on this blog.

Companies who use these kinds of tactics end up being the subject of special attention. In the end they are not happy campers.

For a low level example take a look at Mike Masnick’s situation. He has been bashing inventors unmercifully for some time. In the process he is drawing more inventors to this blog. That has led to him being taken to task and being shown up as someone who is profoundly ignorant about patents, the patent system, inventors, and economics of invention.

Ronald J. Riley,

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

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "wide berth for obvious reasons"

It seems to me that all you are able to do is engage in combative accusations instead of constructive discourse.

Your sig says it all. You are a lobbyist for three pro-patent organizations and you run a patent licensing organization which has never produced a product.

All this basically points to an unwillingness to even discuss anything set forth in this blog post.

All I’m asking is:

Mike (profile) says:

Re: "wide berth for obvious reasons"

For a low level example take a look at Mike Masnick’s situation. He has been bashing inventors unmercifully for some time. In the process he is drawing more inventors to this blog. That has led to him being taken to task and being shown up as someone who is profoundly ignorant about patents, the patent system, inventors, and economics of invention.

I find it hilarious that this is Mr. Riley’s response in a thread where I specifically asked him to provide some (any!) evidence to back up his claim.

For your information, Mr. Riley, I have never, ever bashed an innovator. I’m all for innovators. What I have a problem with is anyone holding back innovation — and I will not bash them personally, but may take issue with their actions.

I find it odd that you continually insist that I bash inventors, when I have only been presenting evidence as to how real innovators can make more money by adopting more reasonable business models. I don’t see how that’s bashing inventors at all.

And, if I were “being taken to task” I would think that it would involve some actual evidence to counter the evidence and points that I have raised.

Yet, to date, the only “counter” you have provided has been personal insults, which have now extended past me and to my family.

Again, it’s rather amusing that you repeatedly insist that I somehow insult inventors, when I have done no such thing. Yet, you, quite clearly, have no qualms in flinging personal insults in my direction on a regular basis — and when asked to simply back up a statement you are unable to.

I will let the readers of this site decide for themselves who is more credible.

Anonymous Coward says:

“1. A system for allowing mobile use of a single PBX identifier on a network, comprising: an enhanced DNS server configured to receive a communication containing a private IP address for a PBX system coupled to the network, the enhanced DNS server further comprising, a service module configure to determine a public IP address from which the received communication was sent from; and a central registry configured to store the private IP address, the public IP address, and the corresponding single PBX identifier, wherein the single PBX identifier is the same for internal and external IP devices utilizing the PBX system.”

I am curious if the above “invention” passes the “techdirt-obviousness” test?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That is so incredibly vague. That accurately describes a router, or any system of telephonic or network switching involving host-name resolution and IP addressing. It’s exactly how routers and switches work. It’s exactly why several internet protocols were created such as IGRP and classless RIP.

Go back to networking class, newb.

Trevlac says:

It’s amusing to see all of this circus act. More so to see all of these blog-bashers raining in with false assumptions that come out of nowhere. Seriously Mitch? Upend the patent system? Come on man, you know those are weasel words to get people emotionally sided with you.

This system is being abused. Patents are not being used for what they were designed for. It needs to be reformed. Mike has an idea on how to do it. And no, this is not a blog about every other US system that is being abused. Last time I checked, the name is Tech Dirt.

He’s a guy with an idea on how to improve upon what he dislikes and something with an obvious problem. That’s more than I can say for half the people posting replies here.

Anonymous Coward says:

http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=fonality.AS.&OS=an/fonality&RS=AN/fonality

“Go back to networking class, newb.”

My hunch is you meant your comment to apply to the company that has been assigned the invention contained in the patent application from which I quoted.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Innovators Versus Inventors

Mike probably thinks of himself as an innovator. Innovators are usually marketing hucksters.

Today the term innovator is most commonly used by companies who produce hordes of insignificant inventions and steal the really important inventions from independent inventors. In large part innovator is used to describe companies like Apple who combine others inventions together for their own profit.

Inventor is used to describe the people who actually produce the invention.

Ronald J. Riley,

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

Garry says:

Re: Innovators Versus Inventors

Inventor is used to describe the people who actually produce the invention.

From my reading of things Mike has no issue with the description of inventor that you have put forward. However in the context of the discussion RTI has not produced anything with their patent nor do they have any incentive to do so, as it is obviously far more lucrative to threaten those that have actually produced working systems similar to what RTI hold a patent for.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Innovators Versus Inventors

What is an “independent inventor”?

Was Edison an “independent inventor”?

I’m asking because you seem to skip over actual facts and turn to your own personal interpretation of various terms. For example, you state that “innovators are usually marketign hucksters” where I don’t see the term “marketing” in the definition of innovator at all.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Innovators Versus Inventors

Innovators are usually marketing hucksters.

No, innovators are those who successfully bring products to market. How many products have you brought to market, Mr. Riley? I’m sure when you did, you learned that bringing a product to market involves a lot more than the invention.

In large part innovator is used to describe companies like Apple who combine others inventions together for their own profit.

I’m curious, Mr. Riley, since you seem to be implying something negative about Apple here, if you feel the world would be better off if Apple had not been able to combine these inventions? Would the world be better off without the iPod or the iPhone or all of the resulting competition created by those products?

I would think that without Apple pushing others to out innovate it, we would be hindering, rather than promoting, the progress.

Inventor is used to describe the people who actually produce the invention.

But as you well know, Mr. Riley, as such a scholar of the patent system and (as you have claimed in the past) economics, the patent system was not designed only to protect inventors. Not at all. In fact, it was designed to “promote the progress.” And, as I’m sure you have learned in studying the economic research, the inventions themselves, while important, are merely a part of promoting the progress. And, again, as I’m sure you learned in your research, when one part of promoting the progress is hindered with roadblocks and hurdles, it slows down the rest of that progress.

This is all detailed by the excellent scholarly research we have pointed out in the past, including some by Nobel Prize winning economists — the same folks you insisted last week you had no time for (despite your claim of being an expert in economics).

I’ve been asking you for a long time to present evidence that shows this scholarly research is incorrect. So far, you have not done so, and instead insult me, my family and then accuse me of using “weasel words.”

I have no weasel words, Mr. Riley. I only have the research that I have pointed you to. If you would like to refute it, it would make for an interesting discussion.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Weasel Words

“I find it hilarious that this is Mr. Riley’s response in a thread where I specifically asked him to provide some (any!) evidence to back up his claim.”

Mike,

I have been monitoring TechDIRT for some time. You do not offer actual proof and when someone else does offer such you simply come back with more weasel words.

So you have acquired something of a reputation. Now you will just have to live with it.

That means that anyone who has seen the way you operate is not going to take you seriously 🙂

Ronald J. Riley,

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

mobiGeek says:

Re: Weasel Words

You do not offer actual proof and when someone else does offer such you simply come back with more weasel words

I have been monitoring TechDIRT for some time. I completely disagree with your statement above. And for the record, you YET AGAIN did not respond to Mike with any type of reasoned response.

Please, give us one concrete valid argument that the current patent system actually PROMOTES PROGRESS. Beyond an anecdotal story where someone is now a bazillionair because they patented a plastic doohickey for closing a bag of bread…

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Weasel Words

“I find it hilarious that this is Mr. Riley’s response in a thread where I specifically asked him to provide some (any!) evidence to back up his claim.”

Mike,

I have been monitoring TechDIRT for some time. You do not offer actual proof and when someone else does offer such you simply come back with more weasel words.

So you have acquired something of a reputation. Now you will just have to live with it.

That means that anyone who has seen the way you operate is not going to take you seriously 🙂

Ronald J. Riley,

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

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Weasel Words

Mr. Riley

Weasel words? Isn’t it more like a weasel to avoid the question and claim the question was just “Weasel Words”?

By commenting on Techdirt and continuing to respond to comments means you, yes you Ronald, take this blog very seriously. That you or anyone else throws insults speaks more to your character than Mike’s.

Honestly, I’d love to read a debate (by debate I mean no insults and point by point responses without ignoring any given point). I believe it would be very educational to any readers of this blog to have a full honest debate between yourself and Mike. That way everyone could see both of your points side-by-side and decide for themselves what makes the most sense to them.

Balthazar says:

Re: Re: Weasel Words

Clearly, Mr. Riley is completely incapable of citing facts, which would preclude him from taking part in a debate. All he is able to do is attempt to discredit others, by hurling insults. This is the sort of behavior we expect from spoiled children in the schoolyard. And it’s exactly what we get from “people” like Mr. Riley. (Yes, Mr. Riley, in your case, the word needs quotation marks.)

DanC says:

Re: Weasel Words

So you have acquired something of a reputation. Now you will just have to live with it.

That means that anyone who has seen the way you operate is not going to take you seriously 🙂

You don’t answer questions. You don’t back up your claims. You continually post the same propaganda. You haven’t had any significant updates to your websites in almost a year’s time. You apparently don’t know what the word ‘innovator’ means.

Worst of all, you don’t even try to debate a point. Your points are questioned, and instead of providing a reasoned response, you simply spout the same thing again.

I dare say that anyone that sees the way you operate is going to realize two things: 1) you don’t know what you’re talking about and 2) you can’t effectively support your position.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“It’s sneaky to imply that a bunch of companies paid huge money — improperly suggesting that the patents are clearly valid and it’s not worth fighting.

Or do you consider that “every day business”?”

The article does not speak one way or the other about the patentee implying that a bunch of companies paid huge money, only that a bunch of companies has taken licenses.

Since patents are presumptively valid under law, I do not understand why the patentee’s contacting the author and bringing it to his attention was improper.

As I said, his approach was tacky, but that by itself does not invalidate the point he was trying to make.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The article does not speak one way or the other about the patentee implying that a bunch of companies paid huge money, only that a bunch of companies has taken licenses.

Then I would suggest you reread the post. To pretend that RTI did not imply that company’s paid a ton of money is to be willfully ignorant — something I’m assuming you are not. Why mention that you had sued Google for the ridiculous sum of $5 billion if not to imply that Google had to pay a ton of money?

You know as well as I do, the only reason to bring up all those names, and to include the preposterous lawsuit dollar amounts is to create the aura of other companies having paid up a lot.

That’s sneaky.

Or, according to you, perfectly ethical.

This from the man who presumes to judge the ethical standards of people who help promote content providers. Odd ethical stance, you’ve got.

Mr Relevant says:

a comment that's actually about the article

Patent trolling is a business model, and a successful one. It won’t go away until it becomes unprofitable. Although I bet Mr. Lyman was game to fight the troller to the end, he also was handicapped by having to consider his company’s bottom line, and although I’m disappointed that he “gave in”, he did the rational thing from his company’s perspective. Perhaps, if it were easier/cheaper to fight these things in court, or if settlements included the unsuccessful plaintiff having to cover all court costs of the defendent…

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