Law Schools Team Up To Help Developers Fight Patent Trolls

from the good-news dept

Over the last few years it's been great to see a number of useful law school clinics pop up, focused on taking on key issues of our modern era. While law clinics have been around for a while, those focused on issues raised by technological change and innovation are quite useful. We've seen things like the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at Berkeley, the Online Media Legal Network at Harvard, the Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy Clinic and a number of others popping up. However, most of these have been focused on copyright and free speech issues. There really hadn't been that much done on the patent front that we can recall.

So it's exciting to see a bunch of law schools teaming up with the App Developers Alliance (full disclosure: they have been, and continue to be, a sponsor for Techdirt) to launch the Law School Patent Troll Defense Network. It's bringing together a variety of existing law school clinics, including Brooklyn Law School, American University, NYU Law, USC and more, to help app developers and small businesses fight off patent trolls. This is a big deal since trolls have increasingly been targeting these guys. We've covered, for example the lawsuits by Lodsys, which seems to take great joy in shaking down app developers with highly questionable patent threats.

The biggest issue with these shakedown attempts, which pretty much everyone recognizes, is that the cost of "settling" is much, much cheaper than the cost of fighting, even if the patent claim is ridiculous. And, much of that "cost" is in paying for lawyers. There are some lawyers willing to take cases on a pro bono setup, but that's much rarer when it comes to patent disputes, which are generally seen as "corporate" disputes, rather than directly impacting individuals (even though many small businesses and app developers really are just a single person). So, the setup here will allow app developers who have been threatened to work with the network to try to find law clinics willing to help out and defend against bogus threats from patent trolls.

While there are huge structural problems with the patent system that need to be fixed, in the short term, lowering the potential liability and burden for a company hit with a threatening shakedown letter from a patent troll can be very helpful in avoiding having companies just rolling over and paying up.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 8:31pm

    We need more of these everywhere in the world.

    Create the network necessary to effectively slow and hopefully halt all of these abuses of the law everywhere.

    We also need others to find political(law drafting), non-legal (tech and operational alternatives to bypass incumbered areas) and resources management systems/approaches/collection.

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

  2. identicon
    gyffes, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:33pm


    This is just some cruel trick to make it SLIGHTLY less difficult for me to loathe lawyers (is the galactic "shoot on sight" authorization still in effect?)!


    Heeey, wait, OOTB, isn't a lawyer, is it?

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:18pm


    the work to slow this abuse needs to be done in the US, its these Patent Trolls using the weakness in the US patent system, its the US corporate lobbyists driving US Trade policy around the world, this monoplist blight on free trade is driven by sectional interests inside the US.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:33pm

    Re: Re:

    Sorry that most probably is not the case.

    a) Patent trolls are a global phenomenon.
    b) You don't take a strong opponent head on, you surround it, get some law elsewhere and point to it as success, do you recognize the tactic?

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

  5. identicon
    Zem, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 12:01am


    It's OK, they are still students and have yet turned to the dark side.

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

  6. identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 3:12am

    Jobs created.

    Well shit, I guess I had it wrong this whole time. Patents are great, after all, lawyers are now able to change their business model to target small businesses. Lawyers rejoice.

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

  7. identicon
    Bengie, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 6:24am


    Or get rid of patents. The best and most useful of inventions are made in spite of patents not because of them.

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

  8. identicon
    rubic, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 9:52pm

    Re: Re:

    "The best and most useful of inventions are made in spite of patents not because of them."

    Really? Can you point to something that says this is so?

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

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