Company Wants New Hampshire Supreme Court To Let It Sue Anyone Who Calls It A Patent Troll

from the oh-really-now? dept

Over the years, there have been a few attempts — usually by companies that most of us would call patent trolls — to argue that calling a company a patent troll is defamatory. These arguments rarely get very far, because they completely misunderstand how defamation works. However, a company with some questionable patents around bank ATMs, called ATL, tried a few years back to sue a bunch of its critics over the “patent troll” name. Thankfully, the local court in New Hampshire correctly noted that calling someone a patent troll is protected speech under the First Amendment and is not defamatory.

ATL decided it was going to keep trying. Tim Lee, over at Ars Technica, recently wrote about oral arguments in front of the New Hampshire Supreme Court in this case.

In Thursday’s oral arguments at the New Hampshire Supreme Court, ATL attorney Steve Gordon urged the New Hampshire justices to overrule that initial dismissal of the lawsuit.

“The gist or sting of the statements at issue was that my clients were extortionists, shakedown artists, preying on small banks seeking to license patents that were of no value,” Gordon said.

Gordon argued that none of this was true. Critics said ATL wasn’t selling any products, but Gordon noted that his client did try to commercialize his patents many years ago. Critics said ATL was engaged in a shakedown. “This is not a shakedown,” Gordon said.

This seems like an incredibly iffy argument. There have been many, many cases on similar types of claims, and such statements are not defamatory, as it’s not possible to prove them directly “true” or “false” since they’re very much in the eye of the beholder. The Phantom Touring case is a key one here, where the court ruling noted:

Many of the statements cited in the complaint and appellate brief either constitute obviously protected hyperbole or are not susceptible of being proved true or false. Such, for example, is the language in “The phantom of the ‘Phantom’ ” quoting a critic who described the Hill production as “a rip-off, a fraud, a scandal, a snake-oil job.” Not only is this commentary figurative and hyperbolic, but we also can imagine no objective evidence to disprove it. Whether appellant’s “Phantom” is “fake” or “phony” is similarly unprovable, since those adjectives admit of numerous interpretations.

I can’t see how ATL can get past that bar.

Another standard seen in weak defamation cases is seizing on a small error of terminology. In this case, back in 2012 ATL had key claims in some of its patents invalidated in the federal circuit. That didn’t mean the entire patent was invalidated, but invalidating key claims can more or less kill off a patent. In this case, the defendants said that the patents had been invalidated, when it was actually just some key claims. ATL’s lawyers argue this is defamatory. It is not.

At one point, Gordon argued that one of the defendants had defamed ATL by claiming its patents had been invalidated. Gordon said that this was false and defamatory because only certain claims of its patents had been invalidated; others remained valid.

But justices seemed skeptical. “Wasn’t the gist of the statement correct?” one justice asked.

Indeed, having the gist of a statement being correct is a defense against defamation claims. That’s why I find it kind of amusing that up above, ATL’s lawyer used “gist” in suggesting that calling ATL a troll was defamatory. If you’re the defamation plaintiff, you’re generally not supposed to be the one bringing up “the gist.”

Of course, from the hearing, it really does sounds like (note to ATL lawyers: this is my opinion) ATL is just trying to cost the defendants as much as possible, as its focus seems to be getting past the Motion to Dismiss stage and into discovery — which can be the most expensive part of a case. Though, as Lee notes, ATL’s reasons for wanting to move the case into discovery seems to be… because they want to get into discovery.

Gordon argued that ATL should have gotten a chance to build its case via discovery before a judge decides whether the case has merit. But when a justice asked what information he’d like to seek during the discovery process, the attorney’s answer was a little vague. Gordon said that he’d like to depose defendants, asking questions like “what were the facts that you relied upon when you made a statement of shakedown?”

But it’s not clear that these kinds of questions would be all that illuminating. The core of the defendants’ case is that terms like “shakedown” are fundamentally matters of opinion. Courts have long held that opinionated terms like “rip-off” and “snake-oil” could not be defamatory. The defendants argue that labeling someone a troll or accusing them of blackmail falls into the same category.

Never read too much into how judges behave during oral arguments, but at least from Tim’s reporting, it sounds like they’re skeptical here. And they should be. Calling a company a patent troll is not defamatory. Nor is saying a patent was invalidated when it was really key claims. And trying to drive up legal fees by dragging a questionable case into discovery is quite obnoxious and an attempt to bully a company through abusive litigation.

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Comments on “Company Wants New Hampshire Supreme Court To Let It Sue Anyone Who Calls It A Patent Troll”

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71 Comments
Doug M. Up says:

Re: Zombie "Howard Robinson" back for 2nd after over 4 years!

Techdirt has a real PHENOM of "accounts" that make one bland comment then wait 4-5-6 years to make a second!

This is no innuendo. You can’t explain it without astro-turfing.

The dull pieces of late must be astro-turfed to simulate interest, but I have to wonder why use indisputable zombies when so easily exposed? — Trying to pretend that these LONG gaps are normal? Only at Techdirt! — Or Zombie Master / Techdirt just don’t care that they’re obvious? — Anyhoo, it’s wacky and keeps me interested.

Anonymous Coward says:

To give ATL a fair shake, I think the issue here is that they don’t want their brand of patent trolling associated with the type of patent trolling they don’t like, where the patent troll uses an overly broad submarine patent to skim a profit off of companies that have become profitable in a similar arena.

ATL’s patent trolling does indeed appear to be of a different nature, where an inventor patented a process, attempted and failed to bring it to market, had parts of that patent invalidated, and then attempted to bring suit against the organizations who failed to purchase their wares while carrying on a business with processes similar to the partially invalidated process patent.

ATL probably feels their suit was more justified and feels insulted to be painted with the same brush as the patent trolls whose only purpose in holding patents was to profit off of related lawsuits.

Of course, in most of those other cases, the patent trolls came into existence because someone failed to bring a product to market and then sold their patent to a bunch of lawyers — whereas in this case, ATL failed to bring a product to market and then hired a bunch of lawyers to attempt to recoup their losses; I don’t really see much of a difference, other than the extra defamation lawsuit.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem of course, that your post highlights, is that there are different opinions on what it means to be a patent troll. Some say you need to have an overly broad patent, some say you need to not be exploiting the patent, some say you need to have no other business activity, ect.

As such, the defamation lawsuit fails because what constitutes a ‘patent troll’ is an opinion. There is no legal definition that can establish the label of patent troll as a fact, rather than an opinion.

That is the entire issue on which the entire article is based – that they don’t want to be associated with a specific definition of patent troll but it doesn’t matter because ‘patent troll’ is a term of opinion. Your ‘fair shake’ is the stance ATL is expressed to have in the article above. It literally provides no fairer perspective.

Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: [patent troll]

different opinions on what it means to be a patent troll

The term is fairly well understood. The alternate term, non-practicing entity”, may be more technically informative, butpatent troll” seems to sum it up pretty well.

From the description in the article, it is clear that the unsuccessful plaintiff is, in fact, a patent troll. It is not producing product using its patents. It is trying to convince people to pay license fees for what appear to be questionable patents. It meets the core requirements to be deemed a NPE, or troll.

Qwertygiy says:

Re: Re:

And even were this their intent or reasoning, it still wouldn’t do them one bit of good.

If I call someone a scammer, it doesn’t matter if they have some highly advanced or unique method of tricking people out of their money compared to the vast majority of people generally referred to as scammers.

If I call someone a loser, it doesn’t matter if they came in 2nd place out of 2,000 rather than 50th of 50.

If I call someone cruel, it doesn’t matter if they were only harmful words, and no skinning of dalmation puppies involved.

The terms are still subjective and significantly opinionated, no matter which of the two situations results in being called a scammer, a loser, or cruel.

And even if it’s not subjective, it doesn’t really matter. If I call a local restaurant a "pizza place" because they serve pizzas, it doesn’t matter if they’re making their dishes with the finest German bratwurst, century-old imported cheese, tomatoes only sauced by the chop of a black-belt guru, and delivering them by butler. If they’re offended by being referred to by in the same breath as Little Caesar’s, too bad. They’re still a place that serves pizza.

If it’s defamation, you have to be able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that it was false, that they should have known it was false, and that it hurt you.

Saying "but we’re not LIKE other patent trolls!" comes about as close to cutting it as a knife in Chicago does to a pizza in New York.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s defamation if I claimed they did something specific that they didn’t do.

If I claimed you’re a thief because I felt you did a poor job cutting my hair and I felt you charged me too much that’s not defamation.

If I claimed you intentionally stabbed me with the scissors and I incurred $2000 in medical bills when none of that is true that’s defamation.

General name calling is generally not defamation unless it clearly implies specific actions that are not true. If I claimed you sued Microsoft for infringing on a patent you don’t own and that’s not true that’s defamation. If I called you a patent troll because you have sued people for patents that’s not defamation unless I make specific claims about what you did and those claims are not true and I know that those claims are not true.

Doug M. Up says:

Re: Re: Another arrogant BLUE BALLS paying for attention.

For those new to the site, "blue" and "out_of_the_blue" refer to those arrogant commentors who pay for the privilege of putting their deathless wit in Techdirt’s unique "First Word" and "Last Word", the highlighting done by hyper-links (hence the name "out of the blue"), usually large and always annoying. You see those only rarely because reviled.

This one is odd too because you’d think someone who like Techdirt so much are willing to pay to be a Blue Balls would make an account.

Anonymous Coward says:

I hope they win

Strange how the same speakers simultaneously express their right to call anyone anything they want, but then condemn others who are severely punished just for speaking. It’s totally fair and right that Rosanne gets smashed against the rocks for bad taste, as long as you can make up any crazy shit about anybody, spread it worldwide, and remain immune to any rebuke or consequence.

I hope they win, and “Patent Troll” because at least as defamatory as “Gorilla” (or even “guerrilla”: https://www.theroar.com.au/2018/10/11/guerrilla-not-gorilla-warfare-fired-tennis-analyst-who-nearly-died-to-have-his-day-in-court/

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: they won't

So you are OK with punishing Rosanne for her speech. At least you appear to be.

And you are OK with punishing the journalist who dared to use the words “guerilla tactic” (not “gorilla tactic”). Are you OK with the mob getting him fired? Fair enough? Ever worry that you might be next?

Are you OK to generalize those punishments? Is it OK to fire ANYONE anywhere for saying … saying what exactly? What is allowed and what is not allowed? Using “patent troll” is OK, but what is NOT ok? Hate speech? Patent Troll sounds like “hate speech” to my ears. Who’s ears are the ones to judge who should be fired and who should be promoted?

How about reports of false hate crimes (Smollett)? Should he be banned in the same manner Rosanne was banned? How serious is it up make up a “hate crime” that never happened? In fact, I believe it is much more serious than Rosanne’s comments, certainly less criminality involved, no? Or do you think Rosanne should be put in jail?

Is there anyone here that is worried that THEY might be fired in they say the wrong thing? Is there a “chilling effect” that took place after Rosanne was fired?

These are sincere questions. Any sincere answers?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

These are sincere questions. Any sincere answers?

Yeah, I got a few, you JAQ-off.

Is it OK to fire ANYONE anywhere for saying … saying what exactly? What is allowed and what is not allowed?

If someone working at a company says something undoubtedly racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic, and that company’s higher-ups want to distance themselves (and the company) from that speech, they have every right to fire that person. We can have honest discussions about such consequences, whether they are appropriate for every instance of that kind of speech (or various others), how future employment may be affected by those consequences, and the nature of apology/forgiveness in relation to such consequences. But as far as the legal right to fire someone over what we colloquially refer to as “hate speech” goes: Yeah, it is okay.

Patent Troll sounds like “hate speech” to my ears.

Which is no surprise to us, Hamilton. By the by, how’s your boi Shiva doin’ after getting smacked down so hard by Liz Warren in an election he never had a real chance of winning that he now claims to have invented losing by a landslide?

Who’s ears are the ones to judge who should be fired and who should be promoted?

The person who is in charge of such things at a given business/company/corporation.

How about reports of false hate crimes (Smollett)? Should he be banned in the same manner Ros[e]anne was banned?

Banned from what? Also: Roseanne Barr said a bunch of stupid bullshit, which is not a crime, whereas Jussie Smollett is accused of filing a false police report, which is a crime, so acting as if their two situations and their consequences are the same is a false equivalence.

do you think Ros[e]anne should be put in jail?

I thought you said you had sincere questions.

Is there anyone here that is worried that THEY might be fired i[f] they say the wrong thing?

To say otherwise would be ignorant. And yes, there is a discussion to be had about the proper consequences for saying bigoted bullshit and having your boss/society in general catch wind of it. But you seem to want a discussion about whether such consequences (or any consequences at all, really) should even happen.

Is there a “chilling effect” that took place after Ros[e]anne was fired?

People are still saying bigoted bullshit in public and on social media, so LOLno.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Tell me again what is NOT hateful about calling someone a “patent troll”. Is “patent troll” a term of endearment? Is “patent troll” more hateful or less hateful than “gorilla” or “guerilla”? Should the tennis reporter have been fired, are you OK with that?

Or is it just all bullshit with the intent of fueling hatred and division?

If I call you a gorilla in response to you calling me a patent troll, who is more guilty? Even Steven?

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Tell me what is hateful about calling someone a patent troll? Is patent troll not a descriptor of actions? Is this even related to the terms "gorilla" or "guerilla"? Should ATL be allowed to continue their predatory practices?

Should you, as an employer, do nothing if someone makes a public disgrace of themselves in a manner that reflects poorly on your business and may have real consequences?

Or are you just spouting bullshit with the intent of fueling hatred and division?

If I call you a dick in response to you asking stupid question, who is more guilty? You, or your tactics?

I’m Just Asking Questions, bro…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Well, let’s agree that people who say or do the wrong thing should be fired, and banned from making a living. That sounds good and reasonable, right, just as you point out? You have no problem with that, right?

Now let’s make a list of those things which can not be said – for example, calling a black person a gorilla. And then include the use of the (perfectly innocent) phrase "guerilla tactic" if it is at all associated with a black person. And then let’s include some more phrases, maybe monkey (or "monkey business") or a reference to watermelon or nigger or nigga and maybe a few hundred more words. Then we will make sure that everyone that uses those phrases are fired and banned from making a living.

Why not just make it a federal law, that would be good right. Then you could enforce your ban on free speech nation wide. Why not FORCE business to FIRE people for SPEAKING words on the List? That would be good, right? Then you would be happy and not have to listen to "unsafe" speech, right?

And tell me again why "patent troll" cannot be a phrase on the List that gets you fired and banned. I think it’s absolutely hate filled, even you would agree with that. Tell me you don’t hate patent trolls. Of course you do. It’s obligatory to be part of the modern left to HATE patent trolls. You hate patent trolls, depict them as predatory monsters, and despise them. Admit it.

Then go Fire Yourself. YOU’RE FIRED! (ahh.. that felt good, just like the old days)

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

So you’re a troll, right? You agree with me on that, right? You’re just asking questions to get under people’s skin, right?

That’s all fair and reasonable, right? You agree with me on that, right?

Why not just force people to answer your questions in the way you want them to, right? Why not just make it a federal law? That seems reasonable, right?

It’s obligatory to be part of the modern right to support the old bigotry, right? You despise immigrants despite being descended from them, right? You hate anyone who doesn’t fit your preferred profile or is too dark, depict them as predatory monsters, and despise them. Admit it.

Then go Fire Yourself. YOU’RE FIRED! (Ahh … that felt stupid, just like the old days)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Adapting Libel Law to the Modern World

Don’t you think it is about time that we adapted Libel Law to the Modern World? If you look backwards 20-30 years, the idea that someone could publish information that could be simultaneously consumed by readers worldwide in seconds and by the millions would have been astonishing and terrifying. What has happened is that the technology has gotten ahead of the culture and ahead of the current laws.

How about we adapted a sliding scale of responsibility? For example, something you said in confidence to a small number of people would be at one end of the scale, and screaming something on the Internet where it is bound to get worldwide attention is at the other end of the scale.

Then, the definition of defamation could be adjusted to the degree of intention to distribute the defamatory message. The idea would be that the farther you scream your false message, the more liability you incur. That sounds fair, doesn’t it?

This forum, for example, by being so widely distributed, would be subject to more liability than a locally accessed private corporate server, for example.

And then everyone would have the opportunity to think more carefully about what they say in public. Or face the consequences.

Good idea or bad idea?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Adapting Libel Law to the Modern World

If you’re expecting this site to take responsibility…

Then you’re in for a disappointment, mate, because according to this site’s biggest critics, nobody reads this site. So the amount of responsibility based on your system to be assumed by this site would be… less than zero.

Nice going!

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: they won't

How about reports of false hate crimes (Smollett)? Should he be banned in the same manner Rosanne was banned?

Smollett was also fired from his TV series – just like Rosanne was.

 

Is there anyone here that is worried that THEY might be fired in they say the wrong thing? Is there a “chilling effect” that took place after Rosanne was fired?

Nope. Conduct clauses in employment contracts are nothing new – especially in the entertainment business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 they won't

What used to be applied to a few Hollywood movie stars has now become a standard practice even for low level subordinates in a huge media industry. That’s new, and combined with how homogeneous the media industry is, really terrible. If you don’t “toe the party line” with everything you do and say, you can’t work. It feels un-American to me, how about you? It is a stretch to call it an “independent media” with examples like Rosanne (and the tennis writer, and many others).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 they won't

You are probably too young to remember the “Red Scare” that Hollywood promoted a few decades ago. Banning people for being associated in any way with Socialism or Communism, firing them from their work, banning them from working at other studios. Remember that? Read about it in history maybe? That was un-American, because people should be free to believe what they like, and express what they like. Now, being socialist is FINE with Hollywood, right? Do you see the about-face that the repressive Hollywood culture has made?

Now, if you are pro-American, wear a MAGA hat, or tweet anything that MIGHT be interpreted by ANYONE as Racist, you’re Fired by Hollywood. That’s what you’re defending, right? Firing people for tweeting, threatening teenage boys with a wood-chipper if they support the American president, or pointing out that Michelle Obama has a striking resemblance to a Gorilla in High Heels and Lipstick. Silencing speakers you don’t like is fine, right? You’re for that, yes, as long as no one can silence you.

What do consider American? Are you American? Do you admire America, or do you Hate America?

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re:5 they won't

Ah, so you’re in favor of lynch mobs, right? That’s what you’re defending right? The big wall of racism? You just hate anyone who’s too dark, right?

Round up all the non-whites and put them in a detention center, right? I mean, this is just what’s reasonable, right? Remember the Jim Crow laws? Remember segregation? Weren’t those days glorious? You agree with that, right? That’s just American, right?

Do you admire America, or do you hate America?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: they won't

You appetently don’t know the difference between the court of public opinion and the a court of law. So no we aren’t worried because we understand that words can have consequences both inside and outside of the courtroom and there’s a very good reason that we keep them separated. In other words piss off and take your stupid ass strawman with you. And if you should feel that my words have hurt you in some way. Feel free to use words to humiliate/defend yourself further. Or even better take me to court so TD can get another article out of a pissant who got their panties in a wicked bunch.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 they won't

I don’t know, sounds like you’ve got your panties in a bunch to me.

Can’t prove him wrong so you’re lashing out at his choice of euphemisms? Or did you really think that he meant that all men wear women’s underwear?

Also, grown females don’t wear underwear? This has completely flipped my world on it’s head. You mean to say that there is an entire industry out there for grown women’s undergarments that has no market in which to sell them? I daresay Victoria’s Secret has to be the best company at not selling their product but that can still turn a profit. Also, who knew all those VS models were really gay men and retards? Excuse me while I go re-evaluate my sexual preferences.

Anonymous Coward says:

Value

preying on small banks seeking to license patents that were of no value

The value of a patent is in teaching the public to do something it couldn’t have figured out. If other people stumble across a technique by accident, never having received information from anyone who saw the patent, the patent by definition is of negative value to society.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Value

That’s literally not how this works.

The value of a patent is in teaching the public to do something it couldn’t have figured out.

Obviously at least one member of the public figured it out to apply for a patent in the first place. Who are you to say NOBODY else could have figured out? Indeed, history is rife with examples of the same thing being invented or discovered at the same time by different people.

If other people stumble across a technique by accident, never having received information from anyone who saw the patent, the patent by definition is of negative value to society.

Patents are, by definition, of negative value to society, no matter what. They only benefit the patent holder.

Qwertygiy says:

Re: Re: Value

"Patents are, by definition, of negative value to society, no matter what. They only benefit the patent holder."

Now hold on there, buckaroo. Only sith deal in absolutes.

There are several reasons why patents can be, and often have been, positive for society, and benefit more than merely the patent holder.

Ideally, the patent system encourages invention and advancements. Why spend hours, weeks, or years developing something that your competitors can immediately copy from you? I’m not talking about standing on the shoulders of giants, where they take your product and improve it. I’m talking about iPhonies made with child labor and sold to Wal-Mart; knock-off products that can be made more cheaply, distributed more widely, or marketed more effectively than your hard work, and taking buyers away from you.

It’s not just "cheating off of someone else’s homework" and giving them an advantage by not spending the resources to invent it. It severely hinders the ability for an inventor to gain any benefits from the time and money that goes into development.

Another reason why patents can be useful is the same as that of trademarks: a buyer can be confident that any device made with patent X is equally reliable (or unreliable), as it comes from the original verified source. When patents expire and generic versions become available, buyers nearly always get significant advantages of cheaper alternatives, but at a risk that these alternatives aren’t necessarily manufactured to the same standards.

Were there no patent protection from the get-go, sub-par imitations could easily flood the market and give the entire technology a bad reputation, resulting in fewer people receiving the advantages of the genuine device. Similar to the risk the letdowns of AT&T’s fake 5G pose to the development and adoption of real 5G technology.

There are many reasons why the current American patent system can be inefficient, ineffective, stifling, easy to abuse, or difficult to use. [Personally, I’m of the opinion that patents should only grant royalties, not exclusive rights; should only be granted after a working example is created (like trademarks); and should expire if unused (like trademarks).]

But the idea that patents are imperfect is completely different than the idea that patents are always a bad thing for everyone except the patent holder.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Value

I stand corrected.

I was looking only at a narrow area of patents, and only within the context of the current state of the US patent system. In that I mean, you get a patent for something and no one else can use what you’ve patented unless you bring it to market or license it out.

I see now how narrow my view was on that. Thank you for the explanation.

Qwertygiy says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Value

You… you… stand corrected? What?

Without mentioning a political direction, corporate affiliation, or common law? No ranting of any kind?

You even — gasp — explain your opinion and reasoning in a more specific context, without a single strawman, instead of repeating the same thing but louder?

I apologize, but I have no choice but to cast a shadow upon your name, sir or madam. Though you indeed be Anonymous, you are certainly no Coward.


Back on topic: I do agree with much of your narrower stance. There are many ways to gain similar and greater advantages over the American patent system without the negatives it contains. As mentioned, I’m a firm believer in a fair use system where you can use the patent as much as you like as long as you pay a fair percentage to the patent holder for a set amount of time.

Our current system is too easily abused by the holders of patents, both in creating monopolies and in allowing troll cases. I am personally affected by several of these; there is no equal alternative to an EpiPen due to the patented injection system, so I am forced to choose between spending $300 every few months, buying much cheaper products with injection systems that are known to fail fairly often, buying raw ephinephrine and some way of keeping it on ice, or just hoping I never experience an allergic reaction bad enough to send me into anaphylactic shock.

On a less personally-affected note, 3D printing. How many people realize that it was on the market before iPhones (2007), iPods (2001), smartphones (1999), Google (1998), Wi-Fi (1997), DVDs (1995), Amazon (1994), the PlayStation (1994), HTML (1993), SMS texting (1992), Linux (1991), Microsoft Windows 3.0 (1990), and the Nintendo Game Boy (1989)?

No joke, there were 3D printers on the market back when high-speed internet of a whopping 2 kb/s could fill a $200, 40 MB hard drive all the way up in just over four hours. The patent for the most common form of 3D printing (by extruding hot plastic) was registered in 1988 to one company, Stratasys. The patent expired in 2009, which is the primary reason why the cheapest 3D printer of any kind in 2008 was $10,000, while $500 3D printers were available in 2010.

Were it not for Stratsys forbidding anyone else from using this technology, and limiting their use of it to massive industrial machines only fit for factory use, we would likely have seen the many improvements and uses of 3D printing a full decade in advance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Value

I apologize, but I have no choice but to cast a shadow upon your name, sir or madam. Though you indeed be Anonymous, you are certainly no Coward.

My thanks. Sadly the resident trolls have given all of us ACs an undeservedly bad name. Not all of us are so dogmatic.

I do try to keep an open mind and accept that I may be wrong on occasion, and own up to it when I am. As in this case.

I also was unaware of the history of 3D printers. That is fascinating.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Value

Another reason why patents can be useful is the same as that of trademarks: a buyer can be confident that any device made with patent X is equally reliable (or unreliable),

They are not equivalent, because it is quite easy to make a patented product with inferior materials and/or processes, giving very different reliabilities. Patent only covers function, and not implementation quality.

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09:30 Trumpists Admit That Their Own Social Media Platforms Aren't Much Fun When They Can't Use Them To Own The Libs (79)
15:36 On Elon Musk And Free Speech (164)
12:12 The 'Culture Of Free Speech' Includes Criticism Of Others' Speech; Get Over It (284)
13:30 Cops Who Sued Journalist For Reporting On Their Poor Handling Of A Rape Case Lose Their Defamation Lawsuit (40)
10:48 Jehovah's Witnesses Abusing Copyright Subpoena Process To Unmask Critics (16)
15:35 Devin Nunes Loses Appeal Of SLAPP Suit Against Liz Mair (16)
13:33 First Amendment Group Tells Appeals Court University Officials Shouldn't Have Access To Qualified Immunity (15)
09:32 Appeals Court Smacks Down Unconstitutional Injunction Obtained By A Lawyer To Silence Someone Who Left A Negative Review (13)
10:45 Senator Klobuchar's Next Unconstitutional Speech Control Bill: The NUDGE Act (37)
09:30 EARN ITs Big Knowledge 1st Amendment Problem (40)
13:31 Court (For Now) Says NY Times Can Publish Project Veritas Documents (43)
10:49 Terrible Vermont Harassment Law Being Challenged After Cops Use It To Punish A Black Lives Matter Supporter Over Her Facebook Posts (14)
10:43 UK Government Refreshes Its Terrible 'Online Safety Bill,' Adds Even More Content For Platforms To Police (43)
09:37 Court Grants Qualified Immunity To Officer Who Told Couple To Take Down Facebook Post About Off-Duty Cop Who Shot Their Dog (18)
10:50 Tenth Circuit Tells College Administrator That Ordering A Student To Stop Talking About An Instructor Clearly Violates The First Amendment (27)
06:07 Small Alabama Town's Overzealous Traffic Cops Also Monitored Internet Traffic To Threaten Critics Of The Corrupt PD (43)
10:53 Explainer: The Whole Spotify / Joe Rogan Thing Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With Section 230 (56)
10:56 Governor Inslee Wants To Jail Politicians Who Lie? What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (39)
10:41 Georgia Sees Florida & Texas Social Media Laws Go Down In 1st Amendment Flames And Decides... 'Hey, We Should Do That Too' (65)
13:40 Harrison Greenbaum Latest Trick: Having Paul Levy Respond To Criss Angel's Thuggish Legal Threat (10)
12:12 Small Nebraska Town Pays $16,000 To Resident It Attempted To Sue Into Silence (19)
11:18 Pennsylvania Court Reverses Student's Expulsion Over A Snapchat Post, Reminds School Students Still Have Rights (27)
09:35 Sculptor Of Pillar Of Shame Announces It's Now Public Domain So That Anyone Can Make A Copy, As Chinese Authorities Seek To Destroy It (14)
09:23 Klobuchar's Silly Letter To Facebook Raises 1st Amendment Issues And Only Gives Ammo To Misinfo Peddlers That Facebook Is A State Actor (27)
10:40 Confused Judge Grants Project Veritas' Prior Restraint Against The NY Times (67)
09:31 Robert Reich Loses The Plot: Gets Basically Everything Wrong About Section 230, Fairness Doctrine & The 1st Amendment (95)
11:58 No, The Arguments Against Florida's & Texas' Content Moderation Bills Would Not Block All Internet Regulations (27)
09:33 Canada Strikes Again: Allows Lawsuit Against Twitter To Proceed Over Speech Of Twitter Users (43)
09:20 Rep. Thomas Massie Seems To Have Skipped Over The 1st Amendment In His Rush To 'Defend' The 2nd (95)
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