Other Legal Work Slow? Start A Practice To Help Patent Trolling

from the not-good dept

The economy still isn’t doing so great, and that impacts everyone — even lawyers. So what are they to do in weak times? Eric Goldman points out that in the past, they’d become bankruptcy lawyers, but this time around, it looks like some are realizing a more lucrative strategy is to get involved in patent trolling — though they prefer to call it “IP monetization.” This is, of course, just a continuation of the whole ridiculous focus on squeezing cash from unused or ignored patents, following the publication of the book Rembrandts in the Attic, which kicked off this effort.

From an economic standpoint, this activity is a pure dead weight loss on economic activity. There is nothing good that comes from it. You basically have companies that have ignored a patent they got for whatever reason, suddenly rediscovering it and using it to go after totally unrelated companies who actually innovated and brought products to market (almost always with no knowledge whatsoever of the questionable patent in the first place). And suddenly the actual innovators have to pay up to a company that did absolutely nothing with the invention.

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Comments on “Other Legal Work Slow? Start A Practice To Help Patent Trolling”

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Anonymous Coward says:

1. “Rembrandts…” was an unremarkable book that was well behind the “power curve” concerning monetization of assets. TI, among others, had been doing this for quite some time before its publication.

2. The word “troll” is pejorative and does not accurately reflect what the one (yes, only one) lawfirm is trying to implement.

TheStupidOne says:

This is Why

This is why I am a strong believer in a 1 year at a time patent system. You pay your fee to get the patent then every year you have to pay another fee which is higher than the fee from the previous year. You can keep the patent for the current length of time if you pay up every year, but if you don’t pay up each year then the patent expires with no way to renew it. This way you don’t “rediscover” patents years after you’ve done nothing with them because if it isn’t useful to you you’ll let it expire.

I also feel there should be a compete clause in patent law. If you have a patent and a direct competitor or the supplier of a direct competitor infringes on that patent in its competing product you can sue. You cannot sue companies that infringe your patent but do not compete with you. Competitor in this context is specific to a competitor to the product that is dependent on the patent in question. For example if GE had a patent on a new type of engine that GE decided to use in trains and other large land vehicles and someone else decided to use that patent to power a boat, then GE can’t sue, even if this other company also makes different engines for trains or competes with GE in any other industry. Another example is if a company has a patent but doesn’t make anything with it then that company cannot sue anyone because it has no competitors.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

Re: This is Why

Here here.

Further, I would like to see something of a stiff definition of “Invention”. I can’t stand how patent holders can call something an “invention” when all they did is collate a number of fanciful ideas of what *could* be created if one had the technology, or skill, or time, or manpower.

We get people patenting *ideas for inventions* instead of inventions themselves, and then suing the persons who actually innovate and create something magnificent.

I mean, under this system, Arthur C. Clarke could have “patented” the communications satellite, without having done anything to actually create one. Rubbish.

So I can only assume there is someone out there who holds a patent on “Molecular Disintegration and Reintegration Transportation Device” and is just waiting for the StarTrek Transporter to finally become a reality.

Then it’s off to court!

Don’t hold your breath, asshole.


Anonymous Coward says:

Looking for socialism?

How often does capitalism do the right thing for society?

If I am a lawyer and I help a client license/enforce their patent and my client gets paid and I get paid then something good came from that, we both made money. Capitalism is every man for himself, I don’t have to do anything that benefits you or anyone else but me.

Your arguement is really for independent invention (though I know you really want to flush the entire patent system). Seems more productive to discuss how the US could move from the current patent system to something better. I don’t think we can just throw patents away overnight, it will take planning and time to undo what is already done.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Looking for socialism?

Our patent system is what it is. I did not create it and I cannot directly change it. But I can take advantage of it and it is in my best interest to do so.

I seriously do not understand Mike’s statement that:
“this activity is a pure dead weight loss on economic activity. There is nothing good that comes from it.”

If it helps me then something good came from it.

staff2 says:


“This is, of course, just a continuation of the whole ridiculous focus on squeezing cash from unused or ignored patents”

If they were unused there would be no litigation because there was no infringement.

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 and small companies can afford to enforce their patents, meaning larger competitors can easily beat them out of the market they created and run them into bankruptcy. That’s big companies idea of “patent reform”. Therefore, all this present day discussion of “trolls” is a hoax whose purpose is to cut off the small entity support system and deny them any profit from their creations. Simply put, its intent is to legalize theft.

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