Fark Points Out That Even Though It Doesn't Come Close To Infringing On Patent, It Still Has To Go To Court

from the no-easy-dismissals dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about how Fark, Reddit, Digg, Slashdot, TechCrunch and others were sued over a highly questionable patent (6,370,535) concerning a system for creating online news and press releases. Despite calling out to the combined communities of these various sites, no one has yet been able to track down who's really controlling these patents these days (I'm really surprised Reddit folks couldn't break through the layers of obfuscation).

Either way, Drew, over at Fark, who notes that he's the only one of the folks sued who isn't backed by a much bigger company, also points out one of the more ridiculous facts about patent lawsuits. Even though Fark does nothing even remotely close to what's in the patent, you can't just point that out and have the case dismissed. Instead, they have to go through with the lawsuit, which may take 18 months or more. And this is one of the big reasons why so many companies -- especially small ones -- just pay up to settle patent infringement claims. A patent lawsuit can kill a small business, even if the patent has nothing whatsoever to do with their business.

Every time we post about patents here, a small group of "independent inventors" come here and claim that the patent system is the greatest thing ever, and anyone who criticizes it must be paid by big companies. Yet I'm curious how they feel about situations like this. Will they just say that Fark must be infringing, or will they admit to the possibility that patents can be misused in lawsuits like this?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Nathan, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 6:06am

    Blame Lawyers

    Its a two-fold argument. Abuse of patents and abuse of the legal system. Which is worse depends on what side of the courtroom you're on, I guess.

     

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  2.  
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    Bill Pickett, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 6:14am

    I am not a lawyer but..

    What is Fark's standing to countersue for not only their lawyer's fee's but also punitive damages?

     

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  3.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 6:17am

    Possible better question

    I think somebody on Farks legal team needs to bring up anti-trust issue here as well. It's ripe time to get put the patent-trolls in there place.

    Little fun history and why the X generation (ie age 20 graduating in 2000) are the perfect people to bring this issue to the front. Little known president President Benjamin Harrison on July 2, 1890 signed the Sherman Act. Its the perfect time we point out the monopoly of a patent.

    Btw Mike "to the possibility" is really really needs a strike through tag on it.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 6:55am

    Re: I am not a lawyer but..

    That's one of the problems with IP law, the potential penalties for infringement are huge and it's hard to counter-sue for much (not to mention that you practically have to prove that the other party intentionally sued you knowing that they had no real standing to sue in an effort to get you to settle instead of fighting an expensive lawsuit that the plaintiffs know they shouldn't win, and intent is hard to prove. Yet, the damages for unintentional infringement are huge).

    The best strategy is to counter - sue for patent infringement (assuming you have patents of your own), but then big companies make these smaller patent troll subsidies that conduct no R&D and produce nothing to sue through so that you can't counter sue them for anything.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    Re: Possible better question

    "I think somebody on Farks legal team needs to bring up anti-trust issue here as well."

    Anti Trust laws are only selectively enforced against companies like Google for doing nothing wrong, the DOJ would hardly ever go after a legitimate case.

     

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  6.  
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    Adam Wasserman (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    You are not a lawyer but..

    You seem to assume that the plaintiff is still incorporated, will remain incorporated, and has sufficient permanent assets to make it worth Fark's while to sue.

    I assume that the plaintiff is a shell corporation, set up to be dissolved at the first sign of trouble leaving any potential countersue-er like Fark holding the bag for yet more legal fees. :)

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re: I am not a lawyer but..

    subsidiaries *

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:17am

    "Despite calling out to the combined communities of these various sites, no one has yet been able to track down who's really controlling these patents these days (I'm really surprised Reddit folks couldn't break through the layers of obfuscation). "

    and where are all the mainstream media journalists to figure this stuff out (with all their copy'right' laws to better enable them to afford to dig deeper)? Oh, that's right, big media is part of the problem.

     

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  9.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Possible better question

    [citation needed] look up the history of the anti-trust issues.

    Section 2 of the Act forbade monopoly. In Section 2 cases, the court has, again on its own initiative, drawn a distinction between coercive and innocent monopoly. The act is not meant to punish businesses that come to dominate their market passively or on their own merit, only those that intentionally dominate the market through misconduct, which generally consists of conspiratorial conduct of the kind forbidden by Section 1 of the Sherman Act, or Section 3 of the Association - wikipedia

    I trust that this falls under the misconduct heading.

     

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  10.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    Re:

    Sadly it seems most modern journalists' idea of "digging" is checking out page two of the google results...

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    People die in car accidents.
    People die from gun shots.
    Police arrest people that should not arrested.
    The courts convict people who are innocent.
    People frivolously sue other people for all kinds of reasons.

    We should ban cars.
    We should ban guns.
    We should get rid of law enforcement.
    We should end the court system.

    All problems will be solved by a completely free and open market.

     

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  12.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re:

    "An outright ban doesn't make sense, so let's just ignore the problem altogether!"

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Possible better question

    I guess a better word should have been that they're selectively prosecuted.

    Sometimes the courts are good about not enforcing poorly selected prosecutions, but it can still costs the defendants money.

    Google is a good example of a company that's targeted for bogus anti-trust suits (even by the government though plaintiffs sometimes later forget about it once they realize that the courts will likely not take their side), and there were some government initiated, frivolous looking, anti-trust lawsuits against Microsoft over their browser.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Every time we post about patents here, a small group of "independent inventors" come here and claim that the patent system is the greatest thing ever, and anyone who criticizes it must be paid by big companies.

    The patent system, like almost any system, has potential for abuses. People abuse everything, from food stamps to cutting in line to get into the hottest night club. Any time you have a system, some people will abuse it.

    If you only hold out the abuses, it is easy to make people think that the system is broken. But in the patent system, you have millions of patents (7 million plus) and a scant few true abuses. The "error rate" in the patent system is lower than the error rate for heart surgeons.

    Remember too, this isn't a failing of the patent system, it's a failing of the US legal system, which does not have any methods for "cutting to the chase".

    As the poster above mentioned, we should ban cars, ban guns, and so on, because all of them can be used in bad ways.

    Finally, I always ask but never get a very good answer: What do you propose to replace the patent system with? Nothing? I think the unintended consequences of that action would make the current occasional aggressive legal action look like a minor scuffle compared to what would come in a free for all system.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    "But in the patent system, you have millions of patents (7 million plus) and a scant few true abuses."

    The majority of patents never make it to product. Why should those patents be allowed to exist? They either exist

    A: For defensive purposes
    i)So that you can get the patent before someone else gets it and sues you. IOW, the patent wasn't needed for the invention to exist and obtaining the patent is a waste of money that can go into R&D and better things.

    i) Leverage to counter-sue those who sue you for infringement. Again, another misuse of the patent system.

    B: Patent trolling. To sue innovators who accidentally infringe on your bogus patent in hopes to make settlement money. Again, another abuse of our patent system.

    C: Patent portfolio cross licensing leverage. Again, another abuse of our patent system.

    For a patent to exist and not to make it to product does nothing to promote the progress but only wastes money for acquisition and for other purposes and can only be used to make it more difficult for others to bring something to market. Every patent that doesn't make it to product is a patent that shouldn't exist, and does nothing to promote the progress, and is an abuse of the system. The majority of patents are an abuse.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:59am

    I'm on Fark regularly, so I'm getting a kick out of this.

     

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  17.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 8:03am

    Re:

    No patents on intellectual properties or business methodologies. Any patent must be accompanied by a working model.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re:

    ii) Leverage to counter-sue ... *

    For patent trolling statistics, see Patent Freedom.com/Research.html. These abuses are a serious issue.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:04am

    Re: Re:

    Right, so the solution is anarchy. Genius!!

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:11am

    Re:

    The "error rate" in the patent system is lower than the error rate for heart surgeons

    Ummm, prove it.

    Remember too, this isn't a failing of the patent system, it's a failing of the US legal system, which does not have any methods for "cutting to the chase".

    If a patent is awarded and the recipient immediately files suit against multiple companies (in this case 10), how is that not a failing of the patent system? How was a patent granted on something so obvious that 10 other business were already doing it? Some of these companies aren't exactly "no names" in the industry either, any patent examiner looking at software should have heard of at least one of these sites.

    What do you propose to replace the patent system with?

    Well first, the Supreme Court already ruled against software patents so those shouldn't exist.

    Second, no patents on any research or subsequent products were the government provides any portion of the funding.

    Third, no patents on anything which exists in nature or which are directly dependent upon something which occurs in nature. (ex. You cannot patent ways to discover the presence of a specific gene if it relies on a receptor existing on a cell. You could patent the machine which actually exposes the cell to something and measures the results.)

    Fourth, patents must be renewed every year and the total length of patents must be reduced. Patent length should be examined on a regular basis and be based on independently conducted research.

    Fifth, the patent application process needs to be completely revamped. Limit re-examination, limit changes between re-examinations, allow a "final no" after which another application cannot be filed for the same thing, etc.

    Last, this is hardly a comprehensive list. I don't think anyone wants to get rid of patents completely but I think most people would argue that the current system benefits no-one.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:16am

    Re:

    "The "error rate" in the patent system is lower than the error rate for heart surgeons. "

    Given that the majority of patents never make it to product (at least not by the patent holder, if at all), and every patent that doesn't make it to product (preferably by the patent holder, or at the very least by someone authorized by the patent holder) shouldn't exist, I would say that the error rate in the patent system is pretty high. Unless you're arguing that the majority of heart surgeries fail?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re:

    Last, the patent should make it to product or otherwise be taken away. Most patents don't make it to product and this can easily help discourage non-patent holders from bringing a product to market in fear of being sued.

     

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  23.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    *whoosh*

     

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  24.  
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    Kirk (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Re:

    The "error rate" in the patent system is lower than the error rate for heart surgeons.


    Factuality aside, how is that a logical argument? Should we not expect better outcomes? How are heart surgery and patent examining comparable? I'll let you count the ways.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    Thanks for reminding me why I don't visit Fark comments section. A step above youtube, I'll give them that?

     

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  26.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    Cars are really useful for transportation.
    Guns are going to be needed during the revolution.
    Law enforcement actually serves a purpose.
    The Court system protects a lot of innocent people (see due process).

    Patents create monopolies...no wait
    Patents hinder innovation...hold on
    Patents create incentives to abuse the court system...uhm

    Wait, what are patents good for again?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re:

    Another reason for acquiring patents that never make it to product is because you sell a product and you want to prevent others from selling competing products. So, instead of out-competing your competitors and selling those competing products yourself, you simply patent them to keep others out the market. This hinders innovation and deprives consumers of products that can serve some of their needs better than other products on the market.

    People/businesses/corporations wouldn't spend so much money acquiring patents that never make it to product if it doesn't do them any good. It does do them good and the good that it does them has little to do with promoting the progress.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nice strawman. You're the only one arguing against this strawman that you made up. No one is claiming that the solution is anarchy.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 11:34am

    Re: Possible better question

    There is a long history of legal precedent dealing with the relationship between antitrust law and IP (and, specifically, patent) law.

    It's not like noone has ever addressed this before.

     

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  30.  
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    Jeff, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "the patent should make it to product or otherwise be taken away"
    Patent maintenance fees attempt to address the concern of patents that do not result in a marketable product. To keep a patent enforceable, the current fees are $980 at 3.5 years, $2480 at 7.5 years, and $4110 at 11.5 years. Perhaps these fees should be increased in their amount or frequency to address the concerns of zombie patents.

     

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  31.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    Re: You are not a lawyer but..

    and the fact that this is even legally possible makes me wonder why more corporations don't find people setting their assets on fire or the like in response rather than bothering with the law suit.

     

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  32.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    problem is, once again, the whole 'corporations count as people' issue.

    for an individual to be able to file and maintain a patent, it can't cost too much... but if it doesn't cost enough then the corporations grab 'em up and keep happily paying the fees to do nothing with them, because it benifits their bottom line to do so (or at least so they think.)

    the same problem shows itself time and again in fines in the court system of many nations as well. a fine big enough to wreck an indivudal, bankrupt a small business, punish a fairly new company... it's small enough that that plus legal fees is barely a blip on a large multi-national's financial radar, and they generally make so much more money from Breaking the law than they pay in fines for doing so that it just becomes a 'cost of doing business'.

    ... and some people wonder why i dislike corporations.

     

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  33.  
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    jeff, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Possible better question

    it is common practice to file so-called walker process anti-trust counter claims in patent infringement suits.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 3:05pm

    Re: You are not a lawyer but..

    but if corporations are like people are they just dissolve is that like them committing suicide or getting killed by whoever ran the company? if the latter does someone get charged with murder?

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re:

    I would say that the error rate in the patent system is pretty high. Unless you're arguing that the majority of heart surgeries fail?

    I would love to see your numbers on "patent failures". Mike is a pretty aggressive reporter of patent failures, and yet n all of the time of techdirt, I can't see time find more than 1000 or so out of 7 million. That is a very low failure rate.

    Now, if you want to make it "any patent that doesn't bring a product to market", that number would be larger. But considering that patents are often building blocks towards a product, or are using as part of the manufacturing process to make a product, it is very difficult to tell.

    More importantly, if a patent is granted and then sold to someone else, is the patent itself not a product?

    I appreciate all your comments (you see to talk to yourself a lot) but perhaps you want to consider the implications of your ideas before jumping in with both feet.

     

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  36.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Possible better question

    knowing the basics escapes me on this one. walker process?

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Patent maintenance fees attempt to address the concern of patents that do not result in a marketable product."

    Depends on what type of patent it is. Many patents are not subject to maintenance fees.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Though, given the volume of patents that don't make it to product, I think two things that should be done are

    A: Make all patents subject to maintenance fees

    B: Increase the maintenance fees substantially.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "But considering that patents are often building blocks towards a product, "

    Those building blocks themselves are products. Those patents aren't making it to product period.

    "or are using as part of the manufacturing process to make a product, it is very difficult to tell. "

    Again, the manufacturing process itself is a product and it's one that these patents aren't making it to. I suspect you know that and are just being disingenuous.

    "More importantly, if a patent is granted and then sold to someone else, is the patent itself not a product?"

    Now you're just dishonestly obfuscating the issue. When I say that the patent never makes it to product, I am clearly referring to the product that the patent is describing.

    Granting patents simply for the sake of selling them to patent trolls is an abuse of our system.

    "I appreciate all your comments (you see to talk to yourself a lot) but perhaps you want to consider the implications of your ideas before jumping in with both feet."

    You know darn well that I am simply expanding on what I said before. Perhaps you should consider the implications of being dishonest before you comment, and how that will impact how people perceive your ideas.

     

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  40.  
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    staff, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:42am

    reasonably objective

    "Will they just say that Fark must be infringing"

    As in many other things whether one is infringing or not is a matter of opinion. Still, a plaintiff must have a reasonably objective basis for bringing suit, or they risk being sanctioned by the court. Attorneys are loath to file unless they're pretty sure. None of them want to risk the wrath of the court and their license. Just because an infringer thinks they don't infringe doesn't mean they are not.

    "anyone who criticizes it must be paid by big companies"

    It is a natural conclusion that one may be on the take when their "articles" are always slanted against patents and never present the views of small entity patent holders or inventors. How can one conclude otherwise? It is a reasonably objective conclusion.

     

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  41.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Possible better question

    "Google is a good example of a company that's targeted for bogus anti-trust suits"

    No, Google is a good example of a young punk of a company who presses all the boundaries. Eventually they will have their wings trimmed, and rightfully so.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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  42.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Re: Blame Lawyers

    Lawyers are just hired mercenaries. The whole point of the legal system is to determine blame. It is a fact that inventors are frequently found to be in the right and big companies are found to be wrong. One notable example of this was RIM, they were found to be wrong to the tune of $612 million. And despite all they PR hype, their influence peddling, nearly unlimited resources, at the end of the day they were caught red handed and held accountable for stealing from a lone inventor.

    Every patent thief makes the kind of claims which Fark has made. It is up to the court to decide who is right and wrong. For some reason I think that when the dust settles that Fark will be whining about justice being served just like RIM.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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  43.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: I am not a lawyer but..

    "That's one of the problems with IP law, the potential penalties for infringement are huge"

    Damages are based on ? Guess what, actual damages. And then the court looks at the infringer's conduct, and if it was willful they enhance damages to 1.5 or maybe two times and if it was really outrageous damages might be tippled.

    RIM was accessed large damages because the court caught them foisting manufactured evidence on the court.

    For some reason when courts find that a defendant has tried to commit fraud on them they tend to think that the defendant might be capable of much more wrongdoing.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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  44.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Re: Possible better question

    "It's ripe time to get put the patent-trolls in there place"

    A patent troll s nothing more or less than an inventor or someone who invested in the inventor who has the gall to defend their property right.

    "perfect time we point out the monopoly of a patent."

    Good boy, you figured out that a patent is an exclusive right. I suggest that you read article 1, section 8. An inventor buys exclusive use from the government by teaching their invention. Teaching is done with a patent, typically at a cost of at least three years and a hundred thousand dollars and up.

    I sincerely hope that all of the X generation is not this poorly informed.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This comes as news to me since the law states that maintenance fees apply to "all patenta", even those that may have been secured by the federal and state governments.

    Has the law been amended to create exceptions?

     

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  46.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 10:16am

    Misuse of patents

    Good thought. We need laws that require the courts to favor dismissal unless the plaintiff can show CLEAR evidence of the likelihood of success, with heavy penalties for abuse of the process.
    I am an IP attorney, and know there is value in IP, but the abuse of the system sickens me.

     

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  47.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "it's small enough that that plus legal fees is barely a blip on a large multi-national's financial radar, and they generally make so much more money from Breaking the law than they pay in fines for doing so that it just becomes a 'cost of doing business'."

    This is true of the patent war between independent inventors and transnational corporations. The reason that they are blatantly steals others inventions is that it is profitable to do so. While a $100 or $500 million judgment seems like a staggering sum it is small change when compared to their total profits from patent piracy.

    These companies promote Patent Reform because their vision of reform is one where they can steal all inventions.

    I love being an independent inventor. It allows me to pursue whatever technology which interests me the most. But like everyone I need to pay my own way.

    Big companies have not had the will or gumption for a very long time to think beyond one or two quarters. For the good of society someone has to be handling long term planning. Independent inventors and small business does this and we cannot do so unless we receive fair compensation for our work. Big companies see fair as them taking what they want.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  48.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ""More importantly, if a patent is granted and then sold to someone else, is the patent itself not a product?"

    Now you're just dishonestly obfuscating the issue. When I say that the patent never makes it to product, I am clearly referring to the product that the patent is describing.

    Granting patents simply for the sake of selling them to patent trolls is an abuse of our system."

    It is you who are being dishonest. Patents are a product just like a set of house blueprints. The reason that so called patent trolls are able to buy patents is that big companies, literally whole industries stand together and say they are going to use and go ahead and sue.

    Also, one does not ave to manufacture in order to ave produced something of value. The proof of this is in a long stream of court rulings where one big company after another has to invest in personal lube.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  49.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 1:27pm

    Big Corporate Abuse

    "I am an IP attorney, and know there is value in IP, but the abuse of the system sickens me."

    I agree, big companies abuse the system as a way to abuse inventors and their property rights also sickens me.

    It is long past time penalties for willful infringement be made much more severe.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Patents are a product"

    Unused patents aren't a useful product, just something that gets in the way.

    "Patents are a product just like a set of house blueprints."

    Except unused patents aren't being used as blueprints for anything except possibly to deter others from using similar ideas, most of which would probably be independently figured out anyhow. It's not like patent holders are any smarter than anyone else when it comes to coming up with ideas, many of these people with unused patents are patent trolls or lawyers and hence are probably much less sophisticated than people in a better position to bring things to product in terms of coming up with good ideas. What seems obvious to a person in industry is much less obvious to a patent troll or a lawyer who only practices law.

    Patents have little R&D value, people aren't going to conduct R&D before getting a patent because the products of such R&D could end up infringing on someone else's patent. They get patents before conducting R&D making patents useless at anything other than coming up with ideas that others can just as easily come up with given the current state of technology and knowledge.

    Not to mention, people who get patents that don't make it to product probably wouldn't do it if it didn't benefit them and wasting R&D money on a product that you never plan to sell is also not beneficial so these people who are getting patents on these non-existing products probably conducted no R&D and hence those patents have no R&D value.

    "The reason that so called patent trolls are able to buy patents is that big companies, literally whole industries stand together and say they are going to use and go ahead and sue."

    Having them sue for patents that they never use does nothing to promote the progress. Most patents never make it to product exactly because none of these companies are ever producing what these patents describe. These patents shouldn't exist.

    "Also, one does not ave to manufacture in order to ave produced something of value."

    Of value to whom, the patent holder? Doesn't mean it's of value to everyone else.

    "The proof of this is in a long stream of court rulings where one big company after another has to invest in personal lube."

    How is a court ruling proof of anything other than the fact that a court has ruled x. Just because a court may rule that 2 + 2 = 5 doesn't make it so. and I'm not sure exactly what you mean by invest in personal lube.

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Big Corporate Abuse

    "big companies abuse the system as a way to abuse inventors and their property rights also sickens me. "

    IP is not real property and it's not a right it's a privilege. Your statement is similar to saying that competitors abuse their ability to compete. It's not an abuse, it's a legitimate use.

     

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

  52.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 20th, 2011 @ 4:50am

    Courts are handing infringers their heads.

    "It's not an abuse, it's a legitimate use."

    Patent infringement is not legitimate use, and that is why courts are handing infringers their heads. If it was legitimate use we would not have all the parasites howling about their or the potential for their being held accountable.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Re: Courts are handing infringers their heads.

    "Patent infringement is not legitimate use"

    It maybe not a legal use, but the law isn't the ultimate authority over legitimacy.

    "and that is why courts are handing infringers their heads."

    Or maybe it's just because our legal system is broken.

    "If it was legitimate use we would not have all the parasites howling about their or the potential for their being held accountable."

    IP is intended to promote the progress, not to prevent those that you deem to be 'parasites' from competing in a market place. It's not about giving patent holders some imagined rightful monopoly over something, such a rightful monopoly does not exist (as the founding fathers note). It's about promoting the progress. Our current system does no such thing.

    People aren't parasites just because they compete or independently come up with similar ideas as others. The only parasites are those who don't innovate who sue those who do with bogus patent infringement suits, taking their money in exchange for absolutely nothing of value. There is a word for that, stealing, it's nothing short of legalized theft. It needs justification, it must promote the progress.

     

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

  54.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 20th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Parasites Limitations

    "IP is intended to promote the progress,"

    Which it does by conferring exclusive use of an invention to inventors who teach via a patent.

    "not to prevent those that you deem to be 'parasites' from competing in a market place."

    You are flat out wrong.

    Your problem is that you have never had an original thought. You are smart enough to understand that you do not have what it takes and not smart enough to understand ethics.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:46am

    Patents are to teach...

    So I'm on the fence about patents. I see cases were they are good and I see cases were they are abused.

    I think Ronald is right when he states that patents are there to teach. By getting a patent on an idea, you are showing the world how you figured out to do something. In a few years everyone can then also do it and build upon your idea after your time of exclusivity has expired. If you don't want people getting your idea, and it is a complicated idea and/or process, don't patent that idea, product, whatever.

    However, if it is a rather simple thing to reverse engineer, then patent it, so you have the rights for a few years and then be glad that you won the race to get the patent before someone else stumbled upon this idea. However, I really wonder that if it was that simple of idea, should this be something that is patentable?

    So two examples make me go back and forth with the whole patent system.

    1) My dad is in the rope manufacturing business and has done R&D off and on for 25+ years. He's not a PhD in polymers, he's mostly in charge of the actual equipment. As such, he's come up with a number of processes to make products that no one else has figured out how to make. I remember as a kid 15 years ago getting a tour of his plant. He showed me how he came up with process X that none of his competitors had figured out to make this rope, and that rope was very well received by the market. His company had the corner on that market. I asked him at the time if he had a patent on it since I thought it would be cool to know my dad had a patent. He told me no, he did not. It seemed that his bosses weren't concerned with getting one. So fast forward 15 years to when I was back home this last Xmas. Once again getting the traditional tour of the plant and he once again was showing me process X. Come to find out that when the company had been bought out recently, the new management had decided to patent process X. My dad told me it was a good thing that they had, since now one of their competitors was seemingly copying the process. Now, my question, is it a coincidence that they just now started copying this process after the patent was filed, but had not been able too for 15 years before that? Did the patent help them corner the market or did it just give their competitor the jumpstart needed to make a similar product. But if a patent is there to teach and not just to claim exclusivity, then it was actually serving its intended purpose, just maybe sooner than desired. So is a patent in this situation a good thing or bad?? If you look at it from my dad's company, I'd have to say a bad thing, because now they have shown the competitor how to make this product. But from a progress stand point, it was a good thing since it is now allowing other to take that idea and build upon it.

    So now the simple example:
    2) My cousin designs boxes. I never knew this was a profession before my cousin started doing it. So he designs a box for dispensing wine. Apparently there is a desire for boxed wine, but not the point of this discussion. So his company submits his design to the potential client to see if they would want to start ordering this box. The wine company does not order the box from them. A few months later my cousins company sees an ad from said wine company, talking about this new box design... and wouldn't you know it looks just like my cousins design. Now, his company had made sure to patent ideas like these for just this reason. So now its to the courts to figure all this out. So in this case it would seem that the patent system is working as it should. However, I have to wonder if a NDA or some other type of binding contract not to take the idea and use it without their permission would have been enough to take the wine company to court with if they had decided to try and cheat my cousins company. Is a patent the only way to go about this?

    So, with all that being said, I actually took the time to read the patent in question here. It seems to me to be an idea of how one could email out news to recipients based on their pre-selected preferences. Not a ground breaking idea, IMO. And even if you say that it doesn't have to be groundbreaking to get a patent, I'm not sure it meets the non-obvious criteria. But some could, and probably would, argue that it wasn't obvious at the time. The patent was filed in '99, so this is early google as only a search engine days. Not a whole lot going on with news aggregate stuff yet. Not a whole lot going on with the internet in general. But I still say it's just an idea. Not a product. Not something you invented but something you thought would be cool. I know some will still argue with that too, that ideas can be patented, but when can we have some common sense injected into the process?

     

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

  56.  
    identicon
    athe, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:57am

    Re: Parasites Limitations

    "Which it does by conferring exclusive use of an invention to inventors who teach via a patent."

    You mean like how companies such as Intellectual Ventures do?

     

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

  57.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 3:25am

    Re: Re: Parasites Limitations

    Based on feedback from more than one source I do not recommend that inventors sell their patents top IV. The reason being that I do not think that IV pays inventors a fair amount.

    The only reason IV is able to do this is that whole industries use independent and small business inventions without acquiring rights to do so and then dare inventors to do something about it. They know that most of the time they will get away with this.

    Returning to IV it is clear that they are expanding on areas which they are investing in with original research which does teach via patents. While IV may be preying on and taking advantage of an artificially low market and they are bare knuckled business players they still create a market where small entities are not able to do so.

    IV is filling a market niche which big companies created with their disreputable conduct. IV, to a small degree, and other companies more so are blazing a trail and creating a liquid market for the most important asset America has, patent protected American ingenuity.

    Eventually, big players will stop rationalizing their theft of others inventions, not because they are ethical, because big companies rarely are, but because the liability of massive patent theft will simply become too expensive.

    The big issue here is that when transnational corp[orations steal patent property rights from small business they are also stealing jobs from all of us. We cannot allow companies who are responsible for moving so many jobs out of America to also steal the asset which drives new job creation.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 4:53am

    Re: Re: Possible better question

    lol everyone knows what a patent-troll is riley.

     

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

  59.  
    identicon
    ErikH, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 5:40am

    significant person President Riley professionally comments on important issue...

    Executive director, senior fellow, caretaker of intellectual property creators, President R.J. Riley has taken a moment of his invaluable time to share this important comment regarding the most pressing intellectual property issues confronting us today:

    "Your problem is that you have never had an original thought. You are smart enough to understand that you do not have what it takes and not smart enough to understand ethics."

    Thank you, President Riley. Your incisive analysis again yields crucial insight. Without your contributions to this discussion and without your efforts to protect invention, discussion would end, invention would end, and we would be truly lost.

     

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

  60.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Possible better question

    Rhetoric yet again with no substantial proof...

     

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

  61.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Possible better question

    A patent troll is an inventor or someone who invests in an inventor who has the gall to defend their patent property rights.

    I am an inventor and I have most certainly kicked the crap out of corporate patent property thieves.

    Even more important is that I have spent over twenty years organizing inventors, teaching them how to defend their rights, and cultivating interest in the legal community for their partnering with aggrieved inventors.

    It is clear that many TechDIRT readers follow the herd mentality and do not consider the implications of undermining the patent system.

    It is simple, if all of America does not prosper then our standard of living will continue to drop. No patents means that all of our inventions will be taken by big companies to developing countries and all will become commodity items.

    That means there would be nothing to allow us to have a higher standard of living then then others.

    Small companies use patents to drive higher profits. Higher profits allow higher wages.

    Transnational corporations make their profits in large part by stealing from others and every transaction where they are profiting is undermining everyone else. They use their profits to buy cover, one example being their troll media campaign. Another being IBM placing their chief patent counsel in charge of the USPTO. GE placing one of their own, CEO Jeff Immelt as leader the new President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. A Microsoft stooge in Commerce and on and on.

    We have the best government transnational corporations can buy. It does not matter which party is in control. We have sovereign nations dancing to the drummer of sovereign corporations.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  62.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Of value to whom, the patent holder? Doesn't mean it's of value to everyone else."

    If the patent is being infringed then clearly it had value. A patent which is not ever infringed still may have value as a stepping stone to finding a more complete solution and may even catalyze a completely different solution.

    When I produced what I thought was an invention I would study patents related to the concept. In the process I would go through large number of patents. Sometimes I would see that the patents missed something related to my concept and that would lead to my expanding the scope of the invention. Sometime I found that there was prior art which limited my original idea to the point it was not worth further pursing my idea. And quite often looking at all those patent gave me insights which led to yet other inventions.

    When inventing one goes through a great deal of chaff in order to find a few nuggets of value. In my experience only half a percent of potential inventions were worth my time to take all the way.

    In many cases the determination on what was worth my had noting to do with an invention itself and everything to do with how nasty a specific industry is in their dealings with inventors.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  63.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Big Corporate Abuse

    "IP is not real property and it's not a right it's a privilege."

    Time for you to go back to school. Or, you could infringe a valid patent an find that you no longer have any real property.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  64.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 9:18am

    Re: significant person President Riley professionally comments on important issue...

    If the shoe fits go ahead and steal it. The majority of TechDIRT fans are long on opinions and really short on knowledge of patents, inventing and how disreputable big companies are in their dealings with us.

    It would actually serve all of you right if big companies had their way in this. You could spend the rest of your miserable existences as serfs feeding big corporate coffers.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 10:01pm

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  66.  
    identicon
    Ronald J Riley, Feb 22nd, 2011 @ 2:54am

    "Anonymous Coward" Headed For Padded Cell

    An example of copying as apposed to creating something original.

    Think of how devastating it must be to never have an original thought.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  67.  
    identicon
    me, Feb 22nd, 2011 @ 8:39am

    Re:

    In a completely free and open market, I could hire someone to kill you.

     

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

  68.  
    identicon
    Jim, Feb 22nd, 2011 @ 8:52am

    Re: Patents are to teach...

    Regarding your Box Wine rip off anecdote, I don't think you'll get very far in the sales process trying to get your customers to sign NDA's.

    Regarding patenting sending out e-mails based on pre-selected preferences there is prior art and the patent should be invalidated.

    The patent troll process is abusive. It could be fixed without discarding the concept of IP. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

    One possible solution: No production, no patent suit. If you don't make and sell the product, you can't sue someone.

    Second possible solution: If you sue and your patent does not get upheld, the suing party, and shareholders become jointly liable for five-ten times the cost of defending the suit to the successful defender.

    We cannot expect the government patent office to fix the system and actually not allow obvious or prior-art patents because, well, they're the government and they're really not very good at much but dropping bombs from 20,000 feet.

     

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


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