FTC Plans To Closely Investigate 25 Patent Trolls To Learn More About Trolling

from the should-be-interesting dept

Never let it be said that the FTC moves particularly fast. After putting patent trolls on notice back in 2011, it finally announced plans to investigate trolls in June of this year. And now it’s revealed a few details of its plans, starting with using its subpoena powers to look into the details of 25 (unnamed) trolling operations. Of course, so far this investigation is just to produce a “study” of patent trolling. Though, as it points out, the FTC’s powers mean it can get information that regular researchers don’t have access to:

The proposed study would add significantly to the existing literature and evidence on PAE behavior. Earlier studies have focused primarily on publicly available litigation data and concluded that PAE litigation activity is on the rise. The Commission, however, has unique Congressional authority to collect nonpublic information, such as licensing agreements, patent acquisition information, and cost and revenue data, which will provide a more complete picture of PAE activity.

It has an initial list of research questions that it will explore:

  • How do PAEs organize their corporate legal structure, including parent and subsidiary entities?
  • What types of patents do PAEs hold, and how do they organize their holdings?
  • How do PAEs acquire patents, and how do they compensate prior patent owners?
  • How do PAEs engage in assertion activity (i.e. demand, litigation, and licensing behavior)?
  • What does assertion activity cost PAEs?; and
  • What do PAEs earn through assertion activity?

The FTC is now seeking public comment on these plans, so feel free to weigh in. It’s important to remember that while this process may appear to be slow (and nothing is going to happen for a very long time), it’s good to see the government investigating this important issue (abuse of patents) while also being careful and cautious about it. Even when we agree that there’s a massive problem (and patent trolling is a huge tax on innovation and the economy), having the government react in a kneejerk fashion could make the problem worse, not better. Having more information, and being able to really zero in on the actual problems, makes it more likely that solutions will be well targeted, rather than quick duct tape patches to try to cover up symptoms.

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Comments on “FTC Plans To Closely Investigate 25 Patent Trolls To Learn More About Trolling”

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21 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

-How do PAEs engage in assertion activity (i.e. demand, litigation, and licensing behavior)?

-What does assertion activity cost PAEs?;

I’d say these two are going to be the most damning to patent trolls, given their ‘assertion activity’ consists, 99% of the time in ‘you’ve infringed on one of our patents(which may or may not be named), give us money now or we’ll bankrupt you with costly court fees’.

Add to that that with how the system is currently set up, it costs almost nothing for the patent trolls to do this, versus the massive costs those defending against them face, and it will hopefully be abundantly clear just how screwed up things have gotten, and how much of a financial threat such parasites present to actually innovating companies.

out_of_the_blue says:

Have YOU "weighed in" with comments, Mike?

“The FTC is now seeking public comment on these plans, so feel free to weigh in.” — That sounds like advice for others to follow; you give ZERO indication as to your own plans, and inquiring minds want to know.

If so, will you publish your notions here? They’re already public, just a convenience to readers.

If you haven’t or won’t make such comments, WHY NOT?

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Have YOU "weighed in" with comments, Mike?

So, “Guy”, you don’t know either, now do you?

It’s a perfectly reasonable question, right on topic, directly linear from it, and I just can’t imagine any reason Mike won’t answer — let alone make comments to the FTC as he suggests. — NOR can I see any point to your doing Mike’s dodging for him, only points it up more.

BUT, given that Mike is the most secretive “blogger” I’ve ever seen, I’m pretty sure this too will go unanswered.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Have YOU "weighed in" with comments, Mike?

@ Shadow Dragon
Maybe because you’re not worth his time since all you do is make an utter fool of yourself for attention,you must live sad lonely life.


Oh, I missed this other typical dodge: the ad hom diversion, all that this particular typical Techdirt fanboy-troll is up to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Have YOU "weighed in" with comments, Mike?

“Oh, I missed this other typical dodge: the ad hom diversion, all that this particular typical Techdirt fanboy-troll is up to.”

Which is hilariously 2 faced and contradictory being stated by Techdirts No.1 Troll who always uses adhoms to attack Mike and others on this site to divert attention from the issue at hand. LOL

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Have YOU "weighed in" with comments, Mike?

I think I’ve got a fairly good idea, but why would I waste my time spelling it out for you? If you can’t even be bothered to read the articles dealing with patent trolls, and Mike’s stance and thoughts on them, why would I assume you’d read a comment on the same?

Here, if you really want to know Mike’s stance on patent trolls and whatnot, knock yourself out:

http://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=patent+trolls

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Have YOU "weighed in" with comments, Mike?

@ That One Guy
I think I’ve got a fairly good idea,


Another DODGE BY PROXY is all you’ve got!

What the HELL is secret with this? Mike’s “public comments” to the FTC can’t be revealed? Or a simple explanation can’t be made for either answer?

Actually, he can’t say “yes” or “no” because either answer will trap him. That’s the beauty of my framing.

Yes would mean that at long last he’s made some actual positive action recommendations. — WELL, knowing Mike, it’d be only more academic ninnying, “needs more study”, which is same as here, but that’d be revealing enough.

No would of course mean he’s advising it for others, but though claiming to be vitally engaged and beyond expert, doesn’t deign to make “public” his notions. That leads only to more questions — as does not answering.

My real goal is just to raise the questions enough to make people wonder why he DOESN’T answer, or distant, perhaps to provoke him to answer this seemingly simple question.

But of course he may wiggle out with some rambling like yours.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Have YOU "weighed in" with comments, Mike?

Additional fencing: Mike may say he intends to, but never do it. We’ve been waiting six and a half years for his promised how to always recover fixed costs in his “can’t compete” piece, and he’s been studying copyright for FIFTEEN years yet doesn’t have bullet points for reforms.

AND with Mike’s alleged trove of advice, all he has to do is copy-paste and some later thoughts, right? So this should be EASY for him and right up his line.

BUT he doesn’t mention any such intentions so far… You just so often have to gauge Mike by what he DOESN’T do.

Xploding_Cobra (profile) says:

Re: Have YOU "weighed in" with comments, Mike?

You know, you really are a fool aren’t you? This comment is typical of why everything you post gets flagged. Why should Masnick comment on his plans here? So you can find even more to nitpick about? How about your own plans? Do you plan on commenting and if so, how? Are you willing to “publish(?)” your notions here? Are you at the very least, willing to answer this simple question: why do you insist on trolling here so much? Is this how you get your rocks off or are you like the little kid in grade school who doesn’t know any other way to get the attention of the person they have a crush on other than to punch them repeatedly in the shoulder?

ntlgnce says:

Patent system over haul.

If your the first to make it a reality, then you have the patent. Proof that your the first to make it will be ownership. It would be like someone patenting using white as a background color on an electronic webpage. Its already been done, So no patent. Now if the person who first created the “white background” could prove he was truely the first ever to do so, then he would be allowed to get the patent. So untill someone proves that they were the first person ever to create a white background, fair use comes into play. Allowing everyone to have a white background for free.

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