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 (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 21st, 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.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2014 @ 12:13pm

    By "support", he means campaign donations.

     

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

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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 . . . ?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2014 @ 12:28pm

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

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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.

     

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  6.  
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    AC, May 21st, 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.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2014 @ 12:41pm

    Re:

    and revolving door favors

     

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  9.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 21st, 2014 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

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

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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.

     

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  11.  
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    Michael Donnelly (profile), May 21st, 2014 @ 1:15pm

    The system is broken.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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.

     

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  14.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 21st, 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.

     

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  15.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 21st, 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.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 21st, 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.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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!!

     

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  18.  
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    John Thacker, May 21st, 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.)

     

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  19.  
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    John Thacker, May 21st, 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.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous, May 21st, 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.

     

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  21.  
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    Groaker (profile), May 21st, 2014 @ 3:14pm

    What did anyone expect?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 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.

     

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  24.  
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    Alan, May 21st, 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?

     

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  25.  
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    CK20XX (profile), May 21st, 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.

     

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  26.  
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    ysth (profile), May 21st, 2014 @ 10:17pm

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 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.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 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)

     

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  29.  
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    David, May 22nd, 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.

     

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  30.  
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    David, May 22nd, 2014 @ 1:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Patent Reform Is Dead

    It's win/win for Feinstein as her husband is in the weapons business.

     

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  31.  
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    Seegras (profile), May 22nd, 2014 @ 3:33am

    Patents inflame cupidity

    You're right.

    We already knew in 1851.

    "Comprehensive patents are taken out by some parties, for the purpose of stopping inventions, or appropriating the fruits of the inventions of others, &c. Such Consequences, more resembling the smuggling and fraud caused by an ill-advised tax than anything else, cause a strong suspicion. that the principle of the law from which such consequences flow cannot be just."

    I OCRd/transcribed the whole article:
    http://seegras.discordia.ch/Blog/voices-against-the-patent-system-the-economist-1851/

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 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?

     

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  33.  
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    maise, May 22nd, 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!!!!!!

     

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  34.  
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    Dan G Difino, May 22nd, 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?

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2014 @ 8:10am

    Re: patent reform

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

     

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  36.  
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    Annonimus, May 22nd, 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?

     

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  37.  
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    GEMont (profile), May 22nd, 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 thread ]

  38.  
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    JWW (profile), May 22nd, 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!!!

     

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  39.  
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    MatBastardson (profile), May 22nd, 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.

     

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  40.  
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    GEMont (profile), May 23rd, 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 thread ]


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