Patent Reform Is Dead; Patent Trolls Win

from the dead-dead-dead dept

As we predicted on Monday, it appears that patent trolls have won this round. Senator Patrick Leahy has announced that he's pulling patent reform from the agenda because there wasn't "sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal." That's bullshit. There is widespread consensus support on how to fix the problem of patent trolls. The problem is that patent trolls and organizations that abuse the patent system to prey on innovators don't like the solutions that are out there. And they started lobbying hard, so patent reform is dead. That is, rather than do the right thing and step up to fix the broken patent system, Leahy and others in the Senate caved in to lobbyists from patent abusing entities (not just trolls). Of course, we went through this same thing in 2004 through 2011 with the last attempt at fixing the patent system, and the end result there was useless.

One of these days, it would be nice if Congress actually took real leadership and did what was right, rather than worrying how some abusive companies will react.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 11:36am

    Saving face or as intended?

    I have to wonder if he's trying to save face(easier to say there wasn't enough support than admit that the bribes were flying left and right, and finally won), or if the whole thing was never meant as anything more than a PR stunt, something he can point to as 'proof' that he's dedicated to patent reform.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Saving face or as intended?

      I think its just about getting funds. The piggy bank was feeling a bit light .. time to stir up some lobby groups

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 1:43pm

        Re: Re: Saving face or as intended?

        Assuming the other comments are correct, yeah, that sounds about right.

        1) Make a lot of noise about 'patent reform'.

        2) A bunch of companies/groups panic, and start throwing out 'campaign donations'.

        3) Bill is dropped(for now, while the coffer is full), due to claims that it 'doesn't have enough support'.

        And anytime funding starts getting a little tight, just start from the top and repeat as needed.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 12:13pm

    By "support", he means campaign donations.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 12:27pm

    EFF reads Leahy pronouncement

    Senator Leahy Kills Patent Reform (For Now)” by Adi Kamdar, Daniel Nazer and Vera Ranieri, Deeplinks [EFF], May 21, 2014
     . . . We understand that other senators—particularly Sens. Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn—were still working hard to reach a bipartisan deal. Just as they were ready to release a new bill, Leahy stepped in to kill the process. . . .

    Today is not the first time Leahy has disappointed us on the IP front. Remember PIPA . . . ?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 12:28pm

    So its not about whats right then, yeah, that seems to be the way
    to go about it....

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Same story. Fuck what the people want, if it helps big business then lets do it until the people complain enough to fix the problems.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 12:49pm

      Re:

      The really funny thing is that patent trolls harm big business too.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 1:45pm

        Re: Re:

        But most of them don't care, as while patent trolls may inconvenience them, they absolutely decimate any competition the big companies might otherwise have had to deal with themselves. A small and worthwhile trade-off from their point of view, pay a 'little' now in exchange for not having to compete later.

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

  • identicon
    AC, 21 May 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Simple

    Make taking any donations from anyone over $2 at a time illegal, and make the punishment for it 25 years hard labor for anyone caught breaking the rules.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 12:40pm

    The problem is that the reforms will rightfully put patent trolls out of business. That should be their intent but patent trolls don't want to be forced out of business.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 12:59pm

    Surprise?

    In a comment attached beneath today's story at Ars Technica, (“It’s victory day for patent trolls as key senator gives up on reform”), the story's author, Ars Tech Policy Editor Joe Mullin, writes:
    The sources I am talking to are themselves still learning the details of what led to this. The negotiations in Senate Judiciary were fairly opaque. This took a lot of people by surprise this morning.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 1:34pm

      Re: Surprise?

      Sounds like what it really is was that Leahy killed the bill for his corporate masters. Screw the fact that it passed by a wide bipartisan margin in the House, screw the fact that Obama expressed his support for patent reform, screw the fact that even members of his own committee support patent reform. It's probably just a surprise that Leahy so strictly follows the will of his buyers and singlehandedly defeat the strongest bipartisan patent reform bill yet.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 2:19pm

      Re: Surprise?

      The sources I am talking to are themselves still learning the details of what led to this. The negotiations in Senate Judiciary were fairly opaque. This took a lot of people by surprise this morning.

      Eh. Not a surprise, really. I was talking to people yesterday who still believed it would go through -- and there was a camp of people working very hard all day yesterday to make it go through. But, it was dead on arrival.

      The "surprise" was that rather than allowing them to reach a deal Harry Reid supposedly called up Leahy and told him to kill it, because the trial lawyers weren't happy. Schumer and others are angry, but Leahy isn't strong enough to stand up for what's right. Reid just pulled rank on him and Leahy folded.

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

  • icon
    Michael Donnelly (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 1:15pm

    The system is broken.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 2:24pm

    it's about time that those in Congress stopped being a bunch of gutless arse holes and actually did something to earn the money they get each month from the public coffers!! totally pathetic!!

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

    • identicon
      David, 22 May 2014 @ 1:38am

      Re:

      Uh, Congress is not a bunch of gutless arse holes but rather a bunch of bottomless money sinks.

      They don't really depend on the peanuts they get each month from the public coffers. They are getting well-greased by corporate lobbyists so it does not hurt them to bend over.

      What they do need is a substantial portion of the public to believe in having no choice but vote for one of the two established organized crime syndicates.

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

  • identicon
    John Thacker, 21 May 2014 @ 2:34pm

    The problem is that patent trolls and organizations that abuse the patent system to prey on innovators don't like the solutions that are out there. And they started lobbying hard, so patent reform is dead.


    To be fair, the bigger problem is that are also organizations that don't abuse the patent system, but have patents, but fear that any solutions that stop the trolls will also hurt them a little bit. Since it can be sometimes difficult to distinguish between trolls and abusive use of patents from more legitimate users, laws restricting patent trolls will likely hurt the revenue somewhat of groups that even most of us agree aren't trolls, like universities, which opposed this bill (Though some of us are suspicious of universities and how they use patents). And they aren't willing to take a hit for the good of everyone else in stopping the trolls.

    If it were just trolls and abusers opposing this law, it wouldn't have been killed. What killed it is that pretty legitimate patent holders that do real research, like universities, opposed it, out of fear for their own revenue, and not caring enough about everyone else's problems that the trolls cause, even if the universities aren't trolls themselves.

    That's a common problem in politics. Sometimes when you take action against Type I errors, you create more Type II errors. Often the balance in taking correction action is worth it (like I think this bill would have been)-- but you can't expect the people who are harmed by Type II errors but not Type I errors not to complain. (In a completely different field, imagine the tradeoffs in civil liberties that sometimes mean a choice between letting more murders and rapists go free, or convicting more innocent people.)

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

    • identicon
      John Thacker, 21 May 2014 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      If you oppose strengthening the rights of the accused because you worry about convicting innocent people, that doesn't mean you "want to see rapists and murderers go free." And if you want to make it easier to charge and convict the accused because you think too many rapists and murders are getting off scot free, that doesn't mean that you "want to convict innocent people."

      It just means you disagree about the relative likelihood of Type I and Type II errors with the current regime, and the proper balance to strike between them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 4:09pm

      Re:

      Universities, especially publicly funded ones, should not focus their attention on patents. Universities generally don't and probably shouldn't make most of their money by selling patented commercial products. University funded research should not be subject to patents by anyone. Universities should focus on conducting useful research and patents have mostly distracted them from that. At least part of the purpose of a legitimate university should be to advance our knowledge through education and research and not to simply maximize profits (ie:through patents or through patent licensing) so they can earn a reputation for making noteworthy achievements.

      In fact if a university did sue for infringement on products it doesn't sell they would be patent trolls. That would be an abuse of the system. Likewise a university may conduct research on patented products for academic purposes and still not infringe.

      So the difference between a university and a business that should make universities not subject to acquiring patents is that universities exist for academic purposes while businesses exist for profit.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 21 May 2014 @ 3:11pm

    Why lay it off on Congress to take "real leadership", whatever that term is supposed to mean, on anything? This is one of the biggest problems in the country today: expecting the government to do (whatever) for you.

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

    • icon
      JWW (profile), 22 May 2014 @ 2:18pm

      Re:

      In this case we're expecting them to fix the stupid laws they passed and reign in the incompetent organization that is the Patent office.

      If they wouldn't have screwed up the process and the law so badly they wouldn't need to fix it!!!

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

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 3:14pm

    What did anyone expect?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 3:49pm

    We need to start putting politicians in jail. There's no longer an excuse to let them continue to run this country into the ground.

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

  • identicon
    Alan, 21 May 2014 @ 5:29pm

    Patent Reform Is Dead

    I don't want you to take this the wrong way, and I mean this in the best way possible, but why don't we just shoot these people?

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

    • icon
      CK20XX (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 8:47pm

      Re: Patent Reform Is Dead

      I think there's no possible way to take that in the best way possible. In fact, your question may be horrifyingly valid. The country is in such a state that we seem to be beyond the point of peaceful resolution, but not yet at the point of violent revolution.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2014 @ 1:30am

        Re: Re: Patent Reform Is Dead

        It will not be a violent revolution, it will be people voting with their guns. (A quote inspired by Senator Dianne Feinstein)

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

  • icon
    ysth (profile), 21 May 2014 @ 10:17pm

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2014 @ 12:33am

    and to think that trolls are only a symptom, so any reform that would counter those wouldn't even fix the real problem. Legitimate patents do not exist, I can think of no examples where patents are benificial to mankind.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2014 @ 5:04am

    I believe it is the American Way to place blame rather than try to rectify a problem. In this case it is the voters of Vermont that are to blame. Good old career politicians and lobbyists. Do we live in a great country, or what?

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

  • identicon
    maise, 22 May 2014 @ 5:32am

    patent reform

    What is really funny is that probably none of you have read the bill that the tech companies were trying to pass . Right now if you have a patent , no one can make or sell your product in the USA. This bill took out the word "sell". That means if a company goes overseas to make your product, they can legally sell it in the USA! If you wanted to go to court about it, before you set foot in a courtroom for patent infrigement you would have to sign an affidavite saying you had enough money to pay the other sides legal fees if you lost. This is usually around 5 million dollars! Sounds to me like your Tech Gods are looking for ways to legally steal from all you aspiring tech entrepreneurs. DO EVERYONE A FAVOR AND READ THE BILL YOURSELF BEFORE YOU COMPLAIN!> MAIN STREET AMERICA DOES NOT READ!!!!!!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2014 @ 8:10am

      Re: patent reform

      C'mon, Ronald J. Riley - couldn't you afford better cocksuckers that know how to format their toadying?

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

  • identicon
    Dan G Difino, 22 May 2014 @ 7:22am

    Bullshit is the perfect noun and adjective

    Wow! Fired up are we? It may be that the Senate is going to have their hands full dismantling the Veteran's Administration, incredibly over the next few days. Something that all of us veterans are really looking forward to. Is there nothing sacred to these people?

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

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 23 May 2014 @ 4:54pm

      Re: Bullshit is the perfect noun and adjective

      "Is there nothing sacred to these people?"

      Yes, there is one thing sacred to these people.

      -------------------Money-------------------

      -

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

  • identicon
    Annonimus, 22 May 2014 @ 12:20pm

    Senator Leahy needs to go

    Senator Leahy has led the patent reform movement in 2004, 2011 and now 2014 and he caved every time after lobbying money entered the picture.

    Is he actually trying to reform the patent system? Or is he running a racket on the patent trolling industry to get a piece of the pie?

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

    • icon
      MatBastardson (profile), 22 May 2014 @ 3:30pm

      Re: Senator Leahy needs to go

      Leahy is a stalking horse. Early EFF poster boy who subsequently co-sponsored anti-privacy bills, now putative patent reform advocate subsequently doing patent trolls bidding. Recently came out in favor of medical marijuana, and all the MM advocates were ecstatic. I warned friends of mine, getting Leahy on your side is a death knell. He's just trying to get ascendency on a trending issue so he can ultimately kill it. It's a pattern with him.

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

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 22 May 2014 @ 1:00pm

    The American Way

    "One of these days, it would be nice if Congress actually took real leadership and did what was right, rather than worrying how some abusive companies will react."

    Well, as long as Trolls and other extortion racket enterprises can legally bribe greedy politicians to kill any real anti-extortion legislation, the chances of Congress "doing what is right" are absolutely non-existent - unless of course, you mean "doing what is right for congress-critters" to fulfill their yacht addiction.

    I mean lets face it folks. Which would you choose?

    Do the job the public thinks congress-critters are supposed to do and make copyright extortion illegal and aid innovation and save a lot of people a ton of cash, or....

    Do what you actually joined congress for, and enjoy the wonders of a 100 foot yacht, with bikini-clad giggling bimbos and pounds of 80% pure cocaine, while counting the ever-growing bribery proceeds stashed away in your off shore accounts.

    It is the American Way after all.

    ---

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.