AOL Won't Go Full Yahoo Patent Troll... But May Sell Patents To A Patent Troll

from the patents-are-dangerous-weapons dept

It appears that AOL isn't going down the Yahoo patent trolling path directly, but it is looking to sell off its patent portfolio -- meaning they may end up in the hands of trolls anyway. You can understand why AOL is doing this. It's been struggling to find its footing for quite some time now, and patents are selling for crazy amounts these days. So they get sold... and abused to sue others. It's the sad reality of the patent system these days. While it's nice to see that AOL isn't doing a full Yahoo, the selling of a patent portfolio to the highest bidder can be just as bad in the long run.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    William, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 6:34am


    This time you're offbase. You can hardly blame them for bailing the boat with whatever they can, and they're not doing anything even remotely scummy or otherwise troll-like. Which honestly surprises me, but for the time being it's not right to complain.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 6:34am

    I wonder if this one is for sale...

    Patent for delivering unsolicited digital content (SPAM) via a physical media device.

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

  3. icon
    DannyB (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 6:34am

    Ideas for patent reform

    Make it expensive to file a patent that is rejected. Make it cheap to file a patent that is granted.

    Now the USPTO has motivation to reject patents instead of rubber stamping them.

    Open the first level of patent scrutiny to the public who can electronically review applications and provide prior art that results in rejecting the patent (thus generating more revenue to the USPTO).

    Once a patent passes public scrutiny, the patent examiner studies it. If it seems eligible for a patent, then two other patent examiners try to find prior art or evidence of obviousness. If they can find evidence of obviousness or prior art, then they get some small bonus. Otherwise, the first examiner who examined it and believed it to be valid gets the bonus. That way there are rewards to everyone (like sales commissions) for doing their job. Finding a patent valid gets a bonus, or proving it invalid gets you a bonus. The "many eyes" of the public can invalidate it.

    Then there needs to be reform of judicial process for all the past junk patents. Stop with the presumption that a patent is valid. Instead assume you need to do the USPTO's job all over again since it failed. If a patent that was granted is rejected, then the party who knew or should have known it was a junk patent, but litigated anyway, should have to pay some statutory damage. If they don't like this, then have some re-examination process they could have gone through before litigating to assure the validity of a patent that was granted in the past.

    There are probably a few other reforms that would correct the incentives to everyone.

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

  4. icon
    DannyB (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 6:36am

    Re: I wonder if this one is for sale...

    Patent for forcibly delivering unsolicited and unwanted Sales, Promotion and Marketing (SPAM) via electronic flexible OLED implants to the inside of your eyelids.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 6:43am

    Re: Nope

    Mike isn't really being unfair here. Where did he ever say anything to imply that their actions were in any way "scummy or otherwise troll-like." He merely was pointing out that given the number of trolls out there that are likely to purchase and abuse these patents that the actions were irresponsible.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 6:50am

    Re: Ideas for patent reform

    Better still. Must have a product ready for market. Term of one year only. No product, no patent.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: Nope'd rather them hold onto the patents until they fail as a company completely, then have them auctioned off to the highest bidder to pay back creditors....and have the patents fall into the same hands in the long run anyway?

    No, they're doing what they have to, to survive. This is the same mentality that blames video gamers for playing used games instead of blaming the scumbag companies *cough*Gamestop*cough* for what they're doing.

    Blame the system, blame the patent trolls, don't blame the ones just trying to keep their heads above water.

    (and by all means, PLEASE change the system and get rid of these patent trolls)

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re: Ideas for patent reform

    Better yet, patents have to actually be for products, not "ideas."

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:08am

    Re: Ideas for patent reform

    I dunno how the patent approval system works exactly, but I have an idea:

    Make the patent claims (but not the implementation) public for a period of 60 days after the patent is (provisionally) approved. If somebody can come up with prior art or an example implementation (even if theoretic, as long as it is explained in detail) the patent is rejected immediately. If not, the patent is approved.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:23am

    Has anyone considered a kickstarter campaign to buy up some of these portfolios and release the technology from the patents?

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Ideas for patent reform


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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: Ideas for patent reform

    The implementation should be public record for all time. It's the cost of getting the patent.

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

  13. icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:29am

    Sweet sweet justice

    They will regret this move when one of their own patents gets used against them.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:38am

    Re: Re: Nope

    It really does point out that Mike would rather the company die than try to do what it can to save itself. The patents may be bought by "trolls", they may be bought by someone else. We don't know. What we do know is that they have value, they have a market price, and it's in the best interest of the company to sell them on and try to save their business than it is to just turn turtle... and have the patents end up in whoever might the highest bidder's hands at auction.

    Mike's single note anti-patent/copyright/business tone is a little silly at times.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:44am

    Here is the soundtrack of your life dude.
    Patent Pending - Douchebag (Lyric Video)

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:55am


    won't work, do you have billions of dollars available for this?? kickstarter wont be able to help

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    I agree with you. I'm not defending the trolls. I hate them as much as you. I was merely pointing out that I didn't feel that Mike was being unfair in the article. Maybe they will be selective in how who they sell them to, however often times this is not the case. I don't see anywhere where Mike says that he blames them for selling them. In fact, he says he understands why they are. He's simply pointing out that it may have an cause an undesirable effect.

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Ideas for patent reform

    I forgot to mention that after the patent was approved, it was business as usual (patent implementation, claims, etc) are made public.

    My idea was to "hide" the patent implementation details until the patent was a approved, for a very limited time, to give people time to challenge the claims by either showing prior art or showing that it is obvious.

    It would be easy to claim that something is obvious if you had the implementation steps before you, tough. But if you could come up with a similar "invention" without prior knowledge of the implementation, then we'd have to assume that the invention is obvious, and, therefore, unpatentable.

    This is just an idea off the top of my head. It probably has lots of problems that I'm just not seeing. That's why we have these discussions, right? ;)

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 8:15am

    Re: Re: Ideas for patent reform

    A glimpse into how the patent system really works and for what it is good.

    The patent examiner assigned to my application is a straight up bold face liar. I called her on her lies then two more agents and a commissioner backed up the whore for a Japanese corporation. So if four public servants lie, it becomes the truth! My application number is 11/647,104 and it is publication number is 2008-0156564-A1. The patent that the government sanctioned criminals say anticipates mine and was "disclosed" by is Miyazawa et al patent # 5,845,727. Mine is called "The Electric Horse(tm): battery powered electric motor bicycle drive train" and pedaling is an option, it self propels! Theirs is called a "driving force auxiliary device"; their drawings and specifications show that you must pedal first before the motor kicks in.

    Youtube: US Patent Office Fraud by wiscokiddd on Apr 25, 2009.

    The above aspiring "inventor" was very angry in 2009 because he had little to no money and apparently no familiarity with the inner workings of any government institution.

    Examiners reject patents all the time and they allow you to refile modifying your claims until they get accepted or keep getting rejected for the duration of your natural life if nobody takes the torch and carry on refilling it.

    So if you try to patent something with plain language it probably get rejected, the reason is probably because there is prior art for it, so what people noticed is that if you make your claims with arcane language they have a better chance to get accepted and pass examiners that don't want to go that deep and really understand what is being patented, the other thing is that you have to have money to patent something, if your claims gets rejected according to the dude in the video responding to comments on his video it is $400 bucks down the drain that you paid and it probably will get rejected since examiners will try and find prior art and reject it at the very least one time and looking at others patents that have six or more prior art showing in their fillings one can assume that examiners rejected those patents six times before it was accepted that is around twenty four hundred dollars, which broke inventors don't have this is not a system for the poor no matter how intelligent he/she is, further to secure a patent you need to patent each and every part of it and by some estimate by others talking about, that is on average a hundred patents, it gets expensive quickly.

    Patents are not for the little guys.
    What happen to little guys is that they end up selling those patents to people who don't invent anything, patents attract parasites, bottom feeders which create a hostile environment for companies which in turn make them buy patents too inflating the prices, which create pools of patents which are walls around a market, which stop others from entering, which is why an American is having to explain how his invention(which is not new) is different from the Japanese company and if he tries to build that he probably get sued and get treble damages for infringing on the patents of that Japanese company so in fact patents take away his chance to produce something and compete on the market which would be the only way for him to make the money he needs to try and patent it again.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ideas for patent reform

    Since people can keep refiling the patent application a rejection means nothing it just means your language was to plain and simple and you need to make it more obscure so the examiner gets tired and don't pay attention to it and has no time to expend deciphering the meaning of the claims.

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

  21. identicon
    slopoke, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 9:07am

    Another Anti-Troll Angle

    The Constitution states: "The Congress shall have power...To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" (bolding mine). I read this to mean that the rights can only granted to the creators. This should make the rights non-transferable. i.e. A patent troll should not be able to buy patents to troll with. Does anyone know of a court case that went down this road? Looks pretty clear cut to me.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Where exactly does Mike say he want's AOL to die? (Maybe they should die. Not for this, but rather carpet bombing the general public with their virus-laden CD's. But that's a completely different issue altogether.)

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 9:28am

    Re: Another Anti-Troll Angle

    That says that congress can only grant it to authors and inventors. It says nothing about whether the authors or inventors can transfer it to someone else after they receive it.

    However, that does beg the question? Can companies actually author or invent (ie. create) anything or do does a flesh and blood person have to do that? (And yes I know Corporations are now people too... at least for the time being until the courts pull their heads out of their asses on the whole Citizen's United thing.) Maybe we can nuke a lot this patent troll nonsense all at once by invalidating ALL patents that were initially granted corporations.

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

  24. icon
    slopoke (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Another Anti-Troll Angle

    I was thinking more along the lines of a particular patent not the general sense. If I am not THE inventor then I have no rights (no patent protection). So while the inventor could sell the patent it would be worthless as the buyer wouldn't have any rights under it.

    To your point, a corp. (AOL) could own a patent but they couldn't sell their portfolio as it would be worthless to the buyer. Since patent trolls mostly don't generate patents but buy them it kind of eliminates their business model.

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

  25. icon
    btrussell (profile), Mar 28th, 2012 @ 4:51am

    Yahoo has the monopoly on being a patent troll? They are hardly a bite of apple.

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

  26. identicon
    staff, Mar 30th, 2012 @ 5:36am

    another biased article

    “Patent troll”

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, shell company, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay or stop”. This is just dissembling by large infringers and their paid puppets to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft. The fact is, many of the large multinationals who defame inventors in this way themselves make no products in the US or create any American jobs and it is their continued blatant theft which makes it impossible for the true creators to do so.

    Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

    Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

    For the truth about trolls, please see

    Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-

    They sell blog filler and "insights" to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world’s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are patent system saboteurs receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don’t have any.

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

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