Intellectual Ventures Says Patent Trolling, Shaking Down Actual Innovators Is The American Way

from the check-your-constitution,-nathan dept

Ah, Intellectual Ventures, and its hamfisted attempts to make itself and its massive patent trolling operation look good. Today it tried to wrap itself in the American Flag for July 4th, by posting the results of a “survey” that it commissioned, pretending to make itself look awesome. Of course, as pretty much everyone knows, when you ask leading questions in a survey, you can get the answers you want. And, tellingly, IV doesn’t bother to release the actual questions it asked, but it’s not difficult to figure out how it was able to get the following results:

  • By a margin of more than 2:1, Americans believe that individual inventors contribute the most to society versus corporations, government organizations and universities.
  • The majority of Americans believe that allowing inventors to patent new technology ideas increases the pace of innovation. On average, less than 10 percent said the practice decreases the pace of innovation.
  • More than half of Americans believe that if an inventor comes up with a popular technology idea first, the inventor should not only be allowed to patent it, but always be able to enforce their patent rights and receive compensation from the companies using the same technology in their products.

If you ask questions about “independent inventors” in a vacuum, without explaining how Intellectual Ventures and those like it abuse the patent system by using vague or bogus patents to shake down actual innovators and force them to pay up to avoid being sued, of course you’ll get those kinds of answers. Yes, lots of folks love independent inventors, but that’s not the real issue. It’s the smokescreen red herring that IV has tried to wrap itself in, when we all know it’s pure hogwash.

First off, if “individual inventors” contribute the most to society compared to corporations — then shouldn’t we be skeptical of a massive corporation like Intellectual Ventures that appears to be sucking up tons of patents? Of course, IV will claim that it’s “helping the independent inventor” by providing them with “much needed capital” or some such crap. But when reporters actually asked them to support that claim, the one “example” that IV gave those reporters turned out to be something else entirely — a trolling operation on a bogus patent, which was later revealed to have involved a patent holder who mislead the patent office to get that patent and where Intellectual Ventures actually got 90% of the profits. That’s helping individual inventors?

Second, it’s no surprise that lots of people think that patents increase the pace of innovation. That’s the story that’s been told for years. But what people think isn’t always what reality is, and at this point the number of studies showing how much patents have held back innovation is overwhelming. I think I’m going to go with the data on this one, rather than what random people who haven’t seen the data think.

Third, on the question of the inventor being able to receive compensation, it seems pretty clear that the question here implies, almost entirely incorrectly, that companies who actually bring products to market are often “copying” the ideas from the inventor. That’s almost never the case. If the question properly asked whether or not companies who actually built a product and then brought it to market successfully, totally independent of some guy who got a vague patent, should have to pay someone who had a vague idea that was never implemented, and which they never even tried to take to market, the answers would be very different.

Once again, IV seems to think people are stupid, and that all it needs to do is spew bullshit to support its position. What a sad place it must be to work at when the best they can do is to ask misleading questions that, even when answered as is, make “big corporation” Intellectual Ventures look so bad.

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Comments on “Intellectual Ventures Says Patent Trolling, Shaking Down Actual Innovators Is The American Way”

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Qial says:

A sad place to work?

I’m not sure about IV being a sad place to work. I imagine their offices similar to a typical startup (it fits the image they’re trying to portray). The main difference is their beanbags and lovesacs are filled with money, and they’ve replaced the Razor scooters with gold-plated, neoned Power Wheels.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: The problem with Statistics

If you need statistics to prove anything – chances are it was not true to begin with …

What do we say about those who use statistics to support an assertion, as you just did? Or, were you trolling for “funny” here?

You can drive a nail with lots of tools other than hammers, and just because the wrong tool was used doesn’t make the chosen tool wrong. It makes the chooser wrong. Statistics can be useful, but knowing the limitations of any tool is useful too.

A pox on IV. They’re not even trying to use their tools correctly. They’re just molesting a flawed system for easy unearned gains.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: The problem with Statistics

Do you have a statistic for that… or a citation?

The only people I see whining about statistics are usually people who are anti-science, or who don’t like what the statistics say. Bit like all the wikipedia dissers.

Yes, statistics can be abused. But so can many many other things – you need to keep an open mind.


Re: Re: The problem with Statistics

Stats is very complex math and people are afraid of math to begin with.

Statistics are complex. They can also be manipulated to appear to say pretty much anything you want them to. This isn’t about being “anti-science” but having some self-awareness of your own ignorance. It’s also a distrust of complexity which is not really a bad thing.

This distrust is nothing new.

Statisticians will be the first ones to acknowledge the words of Disraeli and Clemens.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The problem with Statistics

You said the key word when you said that statistics can be manipulated to APPEAR to say pretty much anything you want them to say.

One of my favorite misuses of statistics is used by the anti-abortion crowd. Based on surveys by anti-abortion advocates, the overwhelming majority of Americans are against abortion. What they neglect to tell you is that the question they ask is whether you are for or against abortion. I personally am against abortion, but I believe also pro-choice. Those are not the same questions. So, by approaching an issue from a certain perspective, you can easily manipulate the answer.

The bottom line: seek objective statistics, and you will get them. Seek biased statistics, and you will get them. The trick is knowing which statistics you are seeing. Most people are unable to ask the deeper questions the seek whether the statistics they are seeing were biased before the data was ever collected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The problem with Statistics

It’s not that most people are unable to ask the deeper questions, they are unwilling to ask them. They are conditioned from a very young age not to question the information fed to them. “Because I said so,” is an acceptable reason to them. We have stopped teaching people to critically think for themselves and instead train them to be good little conformers. We have done so for generations.

staff (user link) says:

more dissembling by Masnick

‘abuse the patent system by using vague or bogus patents to shake down actual innovators’

Wake up Masnick. Those who own the patents are the innovators. Those who infringe are the copycats.

Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-

They sell blog filler and “insights” to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world?s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are hacks representing themselves as legitimate journalists receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don?t have any.

For the truth, please see

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: more dissembling by Masnick


“Star Wars,” the colloquial name for the Strategic Defense Initiative, worked out quite well for the DoD. Indeed, two name changes later, the mission of the current organization has returned to its original mission of being able to stop strategic ballistic missiles, largely due to potential threats from North Korea and the Middle East.

Much of the technology we have today to interdict or stop missiles originated from the program that many laughingly called Star Wars. Those same people would hardly be laughing if they understood how successful the Strategic Defense Initiative has been more than 30 years after it was initiated, though with two name changes since then.


Re: Re: more dissembling by Masnick

We have a serious “patent quality” problem in this country. Everyone in the system abdicates any responsibility. Each party just assumes that someone else will do their job properly. So NO ONE does their job properly.

It’s a nice idea in theory that’s poorly implemented.

There’s too much money in abusing the current system for there to be any reform. Shills just continue to repeat propaganda that sounds convincing enough to laymen.

Of course a man on the street buys into the idealized version of patents. The problem is that we don’t have that.

The patent of that troll wannabe jury foreman is the perfect example of something that never should have gotten past the PTO.

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