Admitted Patent Troll Finds The Phrase 'Shell Entity' Offensive

from the oh-really? dept

You may recall last year that we wrote about a patent lawsuit where the judge banned the use of the word "patent troll." That seemed reasonable enough, since it's clearly a negatively loaded phrase. However, it looks like some patent attorneys are trying to go even further with that concept. Ray Niro, in defending Scott Harris (who, you may recall, licensed his own patents to be used in lawsuits against his own firms' clients), is demanding that the phrase "shell entities" not be used either, claiming that they, too, are used negatively. That's because, like so many patent holders these days, Harris used shell companies to hold the patents and to sue companies. Of course, "shell entities" is a descriptive term, not one that is clearly designed as an insult like "patent troll."

Besides, this seems quite rich, coming in defense of Harris, who used to own the website And, indeed, the lawyers on the other side of the case wasted no time in pointing this out:
Additionally, the Motion to Strike asserts that the term 'shell entity' is synonymous, in this context, with the term "patent troll." Significantly, Mr. Harris, even while at Fish & Richardson, sponsored a website,, in which he proudly and openly referred to himself as a "patent troll." Truth is an absolute defense.
Separately, it is also rather amusing to see patent system defenders get upset about the phrase "patent trolls" when they're so quick to refer to any sort of patent reform as "patent deform", companies in favor of patent reform "The Piracy Coalition," while, of course, insisting that any individual in favor of patent reform a "shill."
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: lawsuits, offensive words, patent trolls, patents, ray niro, scott harris, shell entity

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2008 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: trolls indeed

    "Patent trolls (aka small inventors) notoriously take ideas, patent them, and being unable to mass-manufacture their inventions, wait for some large company to get rich off the (stolen patented) idea, then sue for damages" This would be about right You have any problem with this, little punk ? Ooh ooh, I do. You see, the 'idea' isn't the hard part - doing something useful with it is. Creating the value is. I have ideas all the time, but unless I can do something with it, it's no good to anyone. The correct form is: "Patent trolls have an idea and patent it (or buy patents from others), and then do nothing with them that is useful or creates value. Someone else has the same idea, creates something useful that has value, and the troll sues." Were we using the term "patent troll" to describe a small inventor who'd actually come up with a product but been beaten out in the market by a large company, your argument might carry a little more weight. But we're not. Put the strawman away. That's leaving aside a total lack of empirical evidence that patents spur innovation, and the fact that granting monopolies encourages cartelism and protectionism (exactly the opposite of your supporting the little guy), but we'll take this in small steps, eh?

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.