Tell Congress That It's Time To Fight Patent Trolls And Support Open Innovation (Before They Get Distracted)

from the speak-out dept

Post sponsored by

DevsBuild.It, from the Application Developers Alliance

As part of our sponsorship program with the Application Developers Alliance, we're highlighting some of their key initiatives that we think Techdirt readers might want to get involved in.

With patent reform getting more and more attention in Congress, and a lot of the focus falling on the problem of patent trolls, there's a real opportunity right now for people to have their voice heard. There's still a lot of discussion and revision that has to happen before we see anything close to finished legislation with a real chance of passing, and that means this is the time to make sure Congress stays clear on the real issues and crafts solutions that actually work.

To that end, the Application Developers Alliance is running two campaigns to help get the message to Washington. First is the Fight Patent Trolls initiative, which includes a tool for sending a letter to Senators and Representatives. As usual, we recommend customizing your letter, but the default text includes some good key action points:

  • Create a cheaper, faster alternative to litigation by allowing the Patent Office to review challenges - when evidence justifies - of low quality business method patents. This would give start-ups a chance to fight against the bad quality patents that are trolls' main ammunition.
  • Require the Patent Office to create public searchable demand letter databases so we can track the basis and volume of patent claims and quickly identify abusive trolls.
  • Reduce litigation costs by requiring parties to pay if they demand more than "core" technology documents, which are generally all that is needed to know if a technology is infringing.
  • Protect end-users of off-the-shelf hardware and software. Just as coffee shops should not be sued for providing wi-fi to customers, app developers should not be sued for using off-the-shelf APIs that infringe a patent.

The second campaign is Innovators Need Patent Reform, an open letter to Congress that makes the same key points along with a public list of signers.

As both letters note, there are already proposals in both the House and the Senate, plus recommendations from the President, that contain some of the all-important protections that the victims of patent trolls need. Though the future of these specific bills is uncertain, the building blocks are beginning to fall into place, and it's time to run with that momentum.

You can sign the open letter or send your own on the Application Developers Alliance website.

This post is sponsored by the Application Developers Alliance. Find more info on patents and other issues that affect developers at DevsBuild.It

Reader Comments

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  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), 9 Aug 2013 @ 3:14am

    We need something similar to the ongoing efforts such as Demand Progress and Fight for the Future. Continued, sustained, dedicated effort. There are these stop copyright trolls guys if memory serves. Maybe devs should partner with something like that?

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2013 @ 5:40am


    Too late... already distracted.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2013 @ 7:33am

    too late for that. they got out of bed and all the distraction started with breakfast!

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2013 @ 9:49am

    "Tell Congress"

    Money speaks louder than words. What's that, the big corporations wanting more IP and monopoly privileges have more money you say? Well then they have a louder voice.

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

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    staff, 9 Aug 2013 @ 2:22pm

    lies and damned lies

    you mean 'from the dissembling department'

    Lift up the Application Developers Alliance rock and you'll find several large invention thieves wriggling about.

    “patent troll”

    infringers and their paid puppets’ definition of ‘patent troll’:

    anyone who has the nerve to sue us for stealing their invention

    This is just spin control by infringers to cover up their theft and an attempt to destroy their small competitors.

    The patent system now teeters on the brink of lawlessness. 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 stop or pay”. This is just dissembling by large invention thieves and their paid puppets to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft. The fact is, many of the large multinationals and their puppets 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. To them the only patents that are legitimate are their own -if they have any. Meanwhile, the huge multinationals ship more and more US jobs overseas.

    It’s about property rights. They should not only be for the rich and powerful -campaign contributors. Our founders: Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and others felt so strongly about the rights of inventors that they included inventors rights to their creations and discoveries in the Constitution. They understood the trade off. Inventors are given a limited monopoly and in turn society gets the benefits of their inventions (telephone, computer, airplane, automobile, lighting, etc) into perpetuity and the jobs the commercialization of those inventions bring. For 200 years the patent system has not only fueled the US economy, but the world’s. If we weaken the patent system we force inventors underground like Stradivarius (anyone know how to make a Stradivarius violin?) and in turn weaken our economy and job creation. Worse yet, we destroy the American dream -the ability to prosper from our ingenuity for the benefit of our children and communities. To kill or weaken the patent system is to kill their futures. Show me a country with weak or ineffective property rights and I’ll show you a weak economy with high unemployment. If we cannot own the product of our minds or labors, what can we be said to truly own. Life and liberty are fundamentally tied to and in fact based on property rights. Our very lives are inseparably tied to our property.

    Prior to the Supreme Court case 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 eBay 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 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 into the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all patentees, 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

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

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, 9 Aug 2013 @ 3:46pm

    Switched subjects: "app developers" are not "end-users".

    Well, you keep putting this up 2nd, so I READ it and found an obvious FLAW:
    "Protect end-users of off-the-shelf hardware and software. Just as coffee shops should not be sued for providing wi-fi to customers, app developers should not be sued for using off-the-shelf APIs that infringe a patent."

    I'm not unsympathetic to problems, but "app developers" like manufacturers of hardware are exactly the ones responsible for checking that their suppliers have followed legalities so that "end-users" aren't bothered. The "coffee shop Wi-Fi" to "app developers" is just wacky non-sequitur.

    Patent wars, like all wars, are class wars. In my view, you need to focus on limiting big corporations, preventing them from even having patents: might as well because it's near certain that your proposed tweaking won't go anywhere, while Populist sentiments might (as the "staff" commenter writes).

    @ "staff": I don't consider all that Mike puts out on the problems with patent system wrong, but I'll look more closely at his views from now on, as "legalizing theft" IS one of his (few) visible goals. He wants to do away with all copyright too, and repeatedly defends pirate mega-site Megaupload that illegally grifted millions off manifestly infringing content. Read at all skeptically, he's pro-piracy, pro-theft, and pro-corporate.

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

  7. icon
    Alana (profile), 9 Aug 2013 @ 4:03pm

    They should create a new type of ADHD; Congressional ADHD. CADHD, for short.

    "Inability to get anything useful done, too busy accepting money from outside sources"

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

  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    angrydude, 9 Aug 2013 @ 7:53pm

    f***** corporate puppets

    This is all organized and paid for by large corps
    US congress and obama read from scripts written by the largest corporate invention thiefs. I say shame on this country!

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2013 @ 8:01pm

    Re: lies and damned lies

    Blah, blah, blah. You keep repeating the lies that have been debunked over and over again on this very site. If anyone comes to your site and comments in the manner you just did, they would have their comments removed and likely would be banned. Show a little class, stuff the ad homs, and give evidence for what you say, because so far you've got nothing.

    Case in point: The constitution does not include ANY of the so called 'rights' as you say it does. In fact, those aren't even 'rights' by the mere definition of the word, since they are granted monopolies. It gives Congress the power to enact laws affecting patents and copyright, and nothing more. They also have to power to remove those laws.

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

  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    angrydude, 10 Aug 2013 @ 3:23am

    Re: Re: lies and damned lies

    Study us constitution, pal
    Congress shall have power to promote the progress, not to unpromote it
    Present congress critters are bunch of paid corporate mouthpieces

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2013 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: Re: lies and damned lies

    That gives them the right to enact the law. If they have the right to enact it, they have the right to remove it. Critical thinking isn't your strong point, is it?

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

  12. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    angrydude, 10 Aug 2013 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: lies and damned lies

    If removing exclusive (right to exclude others, not the right to produce) right unpromotes the progress then congress critters are in direct violation of the US Consititution

    Do you know secrets of middle ages craftsmen ?

    And you know why ?

    Removing patent rights unpromotes the progress by forcing people and companies to keep their discoveries and inventions as trade secrets

    It's that simple, pal

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

  13. icon
    ppps (profile), 19 Aug 2013 @ 6:47pm

    So, essentially you want us to write Congress to tell them only big corporations should have the right to intellectual property?

    There is an interesting thing about the movie, Flash of Genius, Ford just wanted to steal the invention until the end of the movie. But the inventor won. They never told why he won. President Carter had the patent laws strengthened so inventors could get treble damages for willful infringement and corporations couldn't get out of paying by just stalling until the patents ran out. Now the corporate patent thieves (or innovators as Obama calls them) stall for decades but still have to pay for past damages.

    Unfortunately, the whole patent troll campaign is being used to reverse those changes and once again keep the small companies and individual inventors and universities out of the game. Yes, now universities do file patents to collect royalties for research and to make those pharmaceutical companies pay for products they partially develop for them. Really, destroying the patent system will make new technology available cheaper for a short time, and then no one is going to be developing anything.

    I do agree that there should be limits to discovery and the whole process should be cheaper. If individuals and small companies could sue at low cost for small damages, the patent troll companies would not be hired.

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

  14. identicon
    Joaquim Sousa, 16 Oct 2013 @ 5:22pm

    Open-innovation required

    I just wanted to say that I am a true fan of open-innovation.
    There should be a wider intersection between rtd - research and technologic development - perfomers. The public research sector should try to implement win win partnerships with the private sector, implying a public and private cooperative relationship. That would bring for sure a wider dinamism to universities, public labs, enforce competition among all the stakeholders involved and attract master students to companies. I think students should at an early stage get involved in market-oriented projects done in cooperation with the public sector - universities - and the private sector. The whole projects could be monitored of course by mentors from both sides - public and private.
    Follow the german case study! They´re truly competitive!
    I don´t know if I am being ridiculous, ok? I live in another galaxy!

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

  15. identicon
    Mark Noo, 18 Jun 2014 @ 5:56pm

    Dead links

    It looks like your links do not go to the proper page.

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

  16. identicon
    Abogados Valladolid, 16 Aug 2014 @ 9:35am

    open inovation

    It's time to create a new way to develop the culture and the economy

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

  17. identicon
    Pete Shefton, 9 Nov 2014 @ 4:31pm

    open source binary sharing

    if we keep bringing opensource applications to the market, we can build clout.

    looking for feedback on open source binary code sharing. no install, no frills. please give it a look and give us some criticism! Thanks!

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

  18. icon
    marline (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 12:01pm

    Bubble Clock

    You know it makes me feel good.Come see my popup builder review

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

  19. icon
    ben402 (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 8:47pm

    Patent Trolls

    At the speed in which congress works, patent trolls are a big issue that won't be resolved anytime soon. It is unfortunate.

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

  20. icon
    Fab Free Samples (profile), 14 Jun 2016 @ 4:28am

    Everyone seems to patent everything and seen to get away with it, I hope this really comes into play.

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

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