MIT's Tech Review Comes Out In Favor Of Patent Trolls
from the sad-day-for-MIT dept
Reader David Carter sends in this bizarrely uninformed column by Christopher Mims at the MIT Tech review, praising patent trolls and calling them “the secret heroes of the tech world.” Carter notes that when he first read the article he thought it was satire. I can see why he thought that as well, but it appears to be serious. Basically, the article focuses on one Finnish company, JoikuSoft (which, I have to admit, kept making me think of Jukt Micronics), which claims to be the first company to figure out how to turn mobile phones into WiFi hotspots. Yet, now, the company complains, everyone is out there using its technology, making mobile phones that can create WiFi hotspots, and no one’s willing to pay Joiku. The “issue,” according to Mims, is that JoikuSoft is still waiting on the dastardly US Patent Office to issue its patent so it can go and sue folks. And, even then, it’s so damn expensive to sue — and thus “patent trolls,” who will buy up Joiku’s eventual patent and sue the likes of Google for it, help “save” JoikuSoft. This sentence is indicative of the article:
Until the U.S. Patent Office grants JoikuSoft a patent on its technology, it doesn’t own it and can’t demand a licensing fee from anyone who builds their own version of it.
Scary, huh? Of course, this version of the story leaves out all sorts of important details. For example, the idea of turning mobile phones into hotspots was hardly an original or non-obvious idea. Lots of companies had been working on this, and the idea that only this one small Finnish company figured it out is laughably inaccurate. Second, it leaves out the fact that all these other companies, who are offering phones with the technology, are actually bringing new innovations to market, unlike JoikuSoft, who seems to be sitting around waiting for a patent to threaten people with it. That’s not innovation that helps the market, that’s a tax on innovation. It’s a sad statement that a magazine like MIT’s Tech Review would resort to such blatantly anti-innovation propaganda.