Interview With A Patent Troll... Which Skips The Key Questions
from the leaving-out-some-of-the-details dept
But worst of all, the article presents Spangenberg as always being right and always having big companies settle (or that he wins his cases). You would think that any profile on Spangenberg would include little facts like that he was caught shuffling patents around in order to sue companies multiple times over the same patent -- despite a settlement promising not to. Doing so eventually cost Spangenberg $4 million. Robin Hood? Or how about his attempts to stretch what highly questionable patents cover? For example, patent 5,493,490, which covers a system for making electronic proposals to buy cars (which, yes, you would think seems obvious enough, but what do you know?), which Spangenberg is asserting against dozens of companies who don't sell cars, but do sell other stuff online.
The problem isn't that there are people who sue without ever making stuff (even though that's what some claim). The problem is that the patents are ridiculous and never should have been granted. Giving someone a total monopoly on an invention (and, despite claims to the contrary, in reality, patents do cover "ideas" not just inventions) should only be granted in extreme circumstances. Yet, the Patent Office hands them out like lollipops to children at times. But, unfortunately, this interview doesn't get into any of that. The reporter seems swept off her feet by Spangenberg bragging about his wealth and who he knows, and doesn't bother to ask any of the important questions.