Patent Reform Is Dead; Patent Trolls Win

from the dead-dead-dead dept

As we predicted on Monday, it appears that patent trolls have won this round. Senator Patrick Leahy has announced that he’s pulling patent reform from the agenda because there wasn’t “sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal.” That’s bullshit. There is widespread consensus support on how to fix the problem of patent trolls. The problem is that patent trolls and organizations that abuse the patent system to prey on innovators don’t like the solutions that are out there. And they started lobbying hard, so patent reform is dead. That is, rather than do the right thing and step up to fix the broken patent system, Leahy and others in the Senate caved in to lobbyists from patent abusing entities (not just trolls). Of course, we went through this same thing in 2004 through 2011 with the last attempt at fixing the patent system, and the end result there was useless.

One of these days, it would be nice if Congress actually took real leadership and did what was right, rather than worrying how some abusive companies will react.

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Comments on “Patent Reform Is Dead; Patent Trolls Win”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Saving face or as intended?

I have to wonder if he’s trying to save face(easier to say there wasn’t enough support than admit that the bribes were flying left and right, and finally won), or if the whole thing was never meant as anything more than a PR stunt, something he can point to as ‘proof’ that he’s dedicated to patent reform.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Saving face or as intended?

Assuming the other comments are correct, yeah, that sounds about right.

1) Make a lot of noise about ‘patent reform’.

2) A bunch of companies/groups panic, and start throwing out ‘campaign donations’.

3) Bill is dropped(for now, while the coffer is full), due to claims that it ‘doesn’t have enough support’.

And anytime funding starts getting a little tight, just start from the top and repeat as needed.

Anonymous Coward says:

EFF reads Leahy pronouncement

?Senator Leahy Kills Patent Reform (For Now)? by Adi Kamdar, Daniel Nazer and Vera Ranieri, Deeplinks [EFF], May 21, 2014

?.?.?.?We understand that other senators?particularly Sens. Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn?were still working hard to reach a bipartisan deal. Just as they were ready to release a new bill, Leahy stepped in to kill the process.?.?.?.

Today is not the first time Leahy has disappointed us on the IP front. Remember PIPA?.?.?.??

Anonymous Coward says:


In a comment attached beneath today’s story at Ars Technica, (?It?s victory day for patent trolls as key senator gives up on reform?), the story’s author, Ars Tech Policy Editor Joe Mullin, writes:

The sources I am talking to are themselves still learning the details of what led to this. The negotiations in Senate Judiciary were fairly opaque. This took a lot of people by surprise this morning.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Surprise?

Sounds like what it really is was that Leahy killed the bill for his corporate masters. Screw the fact that it passed by a wide bipartisan margin in the House, screw the fact that Obama expressed his support for patent reform, screw the fact that even members of his own committee support patent reform. It’s probably just a surprise that Leahy so strictly follows the will of his buyers and singlehandedly defeat the strongest bipartisan patent reform bill yet.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Surprise?

The sources I am talking to are themselves still learning the details of what led to this. The negotiations in Senate Judiciary were fairly opaque. This took a lot of people by surprise this morning.

Eh. Not a surprise, really. I was talking to people yesterday who still believed it would go through — and there was a camp of people working very hard all day yesterday to make it go through. But, it was dead on arrival.

The “surprise” was that rather than allowing them to reach a deal Harry Reid supposedly called up Leahy and told him to kill it, because the trial lawyers weren’t happy. Schumer and others are angry, but Leahy isn’t strong enough to stand up for what’s right. Reid just pulled rank on him and Leahy folded.

David says:

Re: Re:

Uh, Congress is not a bunch of gutless arse holes but rather a bunch of bottomless money sinks.

They don’t really depend on the peanuts they get each month from the public coffers. They are getting well-greased by corporate lobbyists so it does not hurt them to bend over.

What they do need is a substantial portion of the public to believe in having no choice but vote for one of the two established organized crime syndicates.

John Thacker (profile) says:

The problem is that patent trolls and organizations that abuse the patent system to prey on innovators don’t like the solutions that are out there. And they started lobbying hard, so patent reform is dead.

To be fair, the bigger problem is that are also organizations that don’t abuse the patent system, but have patents, but fear that any solutions that stop the trolls will also hurt them a little bit. Since it can be sometimes difficult to distinguish between trolls and abusive use of patents from more legitimate users, laws restricting patent trolls will likely hurt the revenue somewhat of groups that even most of us agree aren’t trolls, like universities, which opposed this bill (Though some of us are suspicious of universities and how they use patents). And they aren’t willing to take a hit for the good of everyone else in stopping the trolls.

If it were just trolls and abusers opposing this law, it wouldn’t have been killed. What killed it is that pretty legitimate patent holders that do real research, like universities, opposed it, out of fear for their own revenue, and not caring enough about everyone else’s problems that the trolls cause, even if the universities aren’t trolls themselves.

That’s a common problem in politics. Sometimes when you take action against Type I errors, you create more Type II errors. Often the balance in taking correction action is worth it (like I think this bill would have been)– but you can’t expect the people who are harmed by Type II errors but not Type I errors not to complain. (In a completely different field, imagine the tradeoffs in civil liberties that sometimes mean a choice between letting more murders and rapists go free, or convicting more innocent people.)

John Thacker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you oppose strengthening the rights of the accused because you worry about convicting innocent people, that doesn’t mean you “want to see rapists and murderers go free.” And if you want to make it easier to charge and convict the accused because you think too many rapists and murders are getting off scot free, that doesn’t mean that you “want to convict innocent people.”

It just means you disagree about the relative likelihood of Type I and Type II errors with the current regime, and the proper balance to strike between them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Universities, especially publicly funded ones, should not focus their attention on patents. Universities generally don’t and probably shouldn’t make most of their money by selling patented commercial products. University funded research should not be subject to patents by anyone. Universities should focus on conducting useful research and patents have mostly distracted them from that. At least part of the purpose of a legitimate university should be to advance our knowledge through education and research and not to simply maximize profits (ie:through patents or through patent licensing) so they can earn a reputation for making noteworthy achievements.

In fact if a university did sue for infringement on products it doesn’t sell they would be patent trolls. That would be an abuse of the system. Likewise a university may conduct research on patented products for academic purposes and still not infringe.

So the difference between a university and a business that should make universities not subject to acquiring patents is that universities exist for academic purposes while businesses exist for profit.

Seegras (profile) says:

Re: Patents inflame cupidity

You’re right.

We already knew in 1851.

“Comprehensive patents are taken out by some parties, for the purpose of stopping inventions, or appropriating the fruits of the inventions of others, &c. Such Consequences, more resembling the smuggling and fraud caused by an ill-advised tax than anything else, cause a strong suspicion. that the principle of the law from which such consequences flow cannot be just.”

I OCRd/transcribed the whole article:

maise says:

patent reform

What is really funny is that probably none of you have read the bill that the tech companies were trying to pass . Right now if you have a patent , no one can make or sell your product in the USA. This bill took out the word “sell”. That means if a company goes overseas to make your product, they can legally sell it in the USA! If you wanted to go to court about it, before you set foot in a courtroom for patent infrigement you would have to sign an affidavite saying you had enough money to pay the other sides legal fees if you lost. This is usually around 5 million dollars! Sounds to me like your Tech Gods are looking for ways to legally steal from all you aspiring tech entrepreneurs. DO EVERYONE A FAVOR AND READ THE BILL YOURSELF BEFORE YOU COMPLAIN!> MAIN STREET AMERICA DOES NOT READ!!!!!!

Dan G Difino says:

Bullshit is the perfect noun and adjective

Wow! Fired up are we? It may be that the Senate is going to have their hands full dismantling the Veteran’s Administration, incredibly over the next few days. Something that all of us veterans are really looking forward to. Is there nothing sacred to these people?

MatBastardson (profile) says:

Re: Senator Leahy needs to go

Leahy is a stalking horse. Early EFF poster boy who subsequently co-sponsored anti-privacy bills, now putative patent reform advocate subsequently doing patent trolls bidding. Recently came out in favor of medical marijuana, and all the MM advocates were ecstatic. I warned friends of mine, getting Leahy on your side is a death knell. He’s just trying to get ascendency on a trending issue so he can ultimately kill it. It’s a pattern with him.

GEMont (profile) says:

The American Way

One of these days, it would be nice if Congress actually took real leadership and did what was right, rather than worrying how some abusive companies will react.

Well, as long as Trolls and other extortion racket enterprises can legally bribe greedy politicians to kill any real anti-extortion legislation, the chances of Congress “doing what is right” are absolutely non-existent – unless of course, you mean “doing what is right for congress-critters” to fulfill their yacht addiction.

I mean lets face it folks. Which would you choose?

Do the job the public thinks congress-critters are supposed to do and make copyright extortion illegal and aid innovation and save a lot of people a ton of cash, or….

Do what you actually joined congress for, and enjoy the wonders of a 100 foot yacht, with bikini-clad giggling bimbos and pounds of 80% pure cocaine, while counting the ever-growing bribery proceeds stashed away in your off shore accounts.

It is the American Way after all.

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