French Government Creates Its Own Giant Patent Troll

from the state-sponsored-patent-trolling dept

It may seem like we've been particularly tough on the French government lately, but it keeps doing ridiculous things. The latest, as written up by Guillaume Champeau, is that it has built its own giant patent trolling operation, funded with €100 million (Google translation from the original French). The operation, called "France Brevets" or "France Patents," will buy up patents from small operations and put the French government in charge of "licensing" (read: shaking down companies for money). Think of it as Intellectual Ventures, but run by the French government.


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  1.  
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    AdamBv1 (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 10:49am

    I do not have enough palms for my face to properly react to this story.

     

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  2.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    It makes sense to me. People are always saying that governments should be run like businesses. Well, he's a great example of the free market at work.

    (God, I feel so dirty writing that.)

     

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  3.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 11:28am

    I suddenly see a guillotine in Sarkozy's future... Along with an angry mob.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    So...

    The French government has been wanting to get into the patent shakedown business itself. That certainly explains a lot. I wonder how long it will be before governments all over the world jump into all sorts of IP rackets directly (not just through their corporate partners).

    Like I said, it sure explains a lot.

     

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  5.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Hey!

    A real Tax on Innovation! (Badump-bump!)

     

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  6.  
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    John Doe, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Can't wait until they start suing foreign companies

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the French government starts shaking down foreign companies. Might be just the thing we need to help break the patent juggernaut.

     

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  7.  
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    Prisoner 201, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 11:59am

    Which nation will be first to patent "government by elected representatives" and "a proccess by which a citizen may be elected to governmental function"?

     

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    Pickle Monger (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Je suis certain que ça va être l'embodiment d'efficacité...

     

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  9.  
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    HothMonster, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    Re:

    Unfortunately Sarkozy now owns the patent on the guillotine so you would have to pay him a license fee to kill him with it. I suppose they will just have pelt him with rocks, thankfully stoning is still in the public domain.

     

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  10.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    Re:

    It wouldn't matter. Our corporation-run-governments would be found as not infringing on it.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    Governments are often so slow to react [in any private or otherwise manner] that the patent is likely to expire before anything will be done about it.

     

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  12.  
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    Jimr (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    1. Get government grant to do research
    2. Patent government sponsored research as a patent
    3. Get government tax break to attempt using it in a business model.
    4. After for government bail out when business fails.
    5. Sell patent to government
    6. Profit, profit and more profit!

    Yep privatize profits all around at the expense of the tax payer. I thought this business model was already patented by every US business.

     

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  13.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re:

    Step 1: Make payment
    Step 2: Cut the rope - let guillotine function properly
    Step 3: Pick the money up off the floor when his hand recoils after death

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Why make things so complex? Instead of taking away their patents, just tax the businesses more. Same result, less work.

     

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    DogBreath, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    Re:

    Yea, but they'll just pass a "Government Patent Extension Law" and make it retroactive . People thinking that the patent had expired long ago will produce a product, and be sued for patent infringement for not knowing any better by trusting their government.

     

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  16.  
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    NullOp, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    Hmm....

    That's not necessarily trolling. If the licensing is for a fair market value then it's just business. Next question, what in Hell is France doing in the patent business?

     

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  17.  
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    N W Karels (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re:

    HothMonster sayeth: "thankfully stoning is still in the public domain."

    Well, killing someone with stones is not patented, but you'll either need to do it in private, or via slingshots, as I own the Publishing/Public Performance rights to the act of stone throwing. Everytime you see a West Bank kid tossing rocks at an Israeli soldier on teevee, I make money!

     

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  18.  
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    FuzzyDuck, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 4:49pm

    Missing the real story

    I don't fear much patent trolling as the usual French government incompetence suggests this is going to be one other big money sink for the French taxpayer.

    What this French government project is more likely to be about is giving tax-payer funded support to French companies, in guise of buying patents.

    Most likely the patents will be worthless and bought for too high a price, so as to effectively subsidize French companies.

     

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  19.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    Wait a minute here. And please correct me if I have this wrong.

    Patents are basically a monopoly granted by the government. And now a government wants to profit from said patents that it grants?

    Is this not the very definition of "conflict of interest"? Or are the French only doing this with foreign patents?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2011 @ 12:11am

    Re:

    I suddenly see a guillotine in Sarkozy's future... Along with an angry mob.

    No, the days are long gone when the French would stand up to their government. Same thing with the Americans and many other countries. It seems that the middle east is the only place where people have any guts these days.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2011 @ 12:12am

    Re: Re:

    Unfortunately Sarkozy now owns the patent on the guillotine so you would have to pay him a license fee to kill him with it.

    Money well spent.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2011 @ 12:15am

    Re: Hmm....

    If the licensing is for a fair market value then it's just business.

    Just exactly what is the "fair market value" of a government granted monopoly? It doesn't seem to me that there's anything "fair" about such a thing.

     

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  23.  
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    bikey, Jun 10th, 2011 @ 4:05am

    France as patent troll

    France has never really believed in the private sector anyway, so this is not out of character. The private research that will be driven out of France is arguably minimal in Sarkozy's grand scheme of things.

     

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  24.  
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    anon C, Jun 12th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    we could use this here

    1 they are only buying patents from small biz

    2 if you dont have an army of lawyers to protect your patents then big corp will just rape your IP, not caring if its illegal

    3 if you could use govt resources to litigate, as a regular person (corporations need not apply, they are not people), you could make a deal with the govt to get back what is rightfully yours

    this would help level the playing field a lot

     

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  25.  
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    bonelyfish, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:01am

    French are clever though shameless

    Its a clever move which returns can be higher than buying US bond, or even sucking out revenue stream from others' manufacturing, producing money with few labor. Even more brilliant is that few companies can battle the war chest of a trolling nation!

     

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  26.  
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    Andrew Watson, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 2:30am

    French sovereign troll fund

    Or think of it as a creative way to create new revenues for the French state. Better or worse than dregulating online gaming? When you've got a billion dollar war to fight, a region in financial crisis, Greeks, Irish and others to bail out and continue to bail out and a shrinking economy, and a quite superlative engineering history, why is this so heinous? Its not the fault of the French government that the troll model can exist and grow to scale, particularly in the US, is it?

     

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