Big Tech Companies Team Up To Share Info And Fight Patent Hoarders

from the information-asymmetry dept

While the Patent Troll Tracker remains darkened, the world at large is definitely missing out on some of the more useful information he provided on his blog, shedding all sorts of light on some of the sneakier practices of various patent hoarding companies, who were often shell companies to hide the real identity of who was behind the lawsuits. Without much information to fight back against these shell companies demanding millions and millions of dollars, various large tech companies seem to have seen an opportunity to team up to fight back. Joe Mullin points out a new organization called PatentFreedom that is basically an association of large tech companies to share information privately on some of the patent hoarding firms that pop up and sue all too often. Mullin has some fascinating background on the organization, which is actually spinning out of another firm that (of all things) was co-founded by Nathan Myhrvold (the guy some folks now accuse of creating a huge patent trolling organization on his own). That existing firm helps companies both big and small in their patent litigation strategies -- but this spinout organization will focus on larger companies facing shell companies that don't produce any products.

While I think it's a good thing that the companies who are often on the receiving end of questionable patent lawsuits are trying to combat the information asymmetry concerning these lawsuits, it's a bit worrisome that this perpetuates the stereotype that this is really a battle between "big companies" and "small inventors." That's a false dichotomy that opponents to patent reform like to set up, because no politician wants to be seen as going against the "small inventor." The truth is that there are all sorts of problems with the patent system, and big companies are some of the worst abusers of the system. Focusing merely on the non-practicing entities, rather than the overall problems with the patent system, may be a necessity these days, but it's merely dealing with a symptom, rather than treating the actual problem.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    angry dude, May 15th, 2008 @ 9:55am

    way to go

    Now those corporate leeches want to bundle together to fight legitimate patent claims from small inventors

    How about creating an alliance of small patent-holding entities to coordinate patent lawsuits against large corporations ?

    How about hundreds of independent inventors filing patent lawsuits against Cisco or Intel or MShit pro se in just one day but in many different jurisdictions all over the country ?
    This will drain corporate legal resources real fast....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, May 15th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    It's about time but can it last?

    Can an alliance of corporations against these
    despicable patent horders last or will the
    competitive pressures pull it apart?

    Patent horders do not help the small inventor,
    that's a lie. They want to aquire the patents
    for as little as possible then squeeze the
    people who have money for as much as possible.

    Hah, Angry Dude you're off the mark again.
    I remember when Cisco, Intel and Microsoft
    were start-ups. They didn't come into being
    fully formed as they are now.

    Mmm.. Sandy Lerner posing naked for photos
    laying on the back of a clydesdale. Those
    were the days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    OneDisciple, May 15th, 2008 @ 11:42am

    Re: Way to go

    Angry Dude,
    I like the way you think. Now if you could just put that considerable intellect to use on reality you could help to transform the world into a better place. I agree that the small inventor needs to be protected, but what does that have to do with a shell company that acquires patents for the sole purpose of making money off the patents?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Joe Mullin, May 15th, 2008 @ 4:11pm


    Thanks for the post Mike...

    One thing I would clarify — You described PatentFreedom as an association of large tech companies — but I suspect that if they really are going to have 50 members by year's end there will be plenty of companies not strictly in the tech sector. Car companies, banks, and big retailers all are getting hit regularly with patent suits now. I could see demand for such a service coming from a Wal-Mart or Ford or Bank of America.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2008 @ 6:33pm

    Does PatentFreedom have an office in east texas ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    stv, May 16th, 2008 @ 6:50am

    gang of thieves

    "various large tech companies seem to have seen an opportunity to team up"

    oh, you mean the gang of thieves...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Mike (profile), May 16th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    Re: gang of thieves

    oh, you mean the gang of thieves...

    If by gang of thieves, you mean all the companies who have actually brought products to market that make your life better...

    Or do you not use the internet or a computer?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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