Open Source Voice Assistant Promises To 'Nuke From Orbit' Patent Troll

from the take-no-prisoners dept

Open source voice assistant company Mycroft AI (which we actually wrote about years back) appears to be the latest startup to recognize that the only way to properly deal with patent trolls is to fight back. This strategy was first pioneered by online retailer Newegg, whose refusal to give in to any patent trolls eventually (after years of litigation) meant that patent trolls stopped trying to shake the company down. More recently, Cloudlfare has taken a similarly successful approach.

It appears that these kinds of moves have inspired Mycroft's CEO, Joshua Montgomery, to take quite a stand now that a patent troll is trying to shake his company down:

Tod Tumey of Tumey LLP based out of Texas ( a venue famous for hosting patent trolls ) contacted us with a “Highly Confidential” letter offering to license his “client’s” “valuable” voice patents to Mycroft AI Inc. When we didn’t respond ( don’t feed the trolls! ) he filed suit in East Texas.

As a result, we’ve taken the time to develop an internal policy about how we’re going to deal with patent trolls. Here is how we’re going to handle them:

Our policy is also to attack bogus patents like U.S. Patent No. 9,794,348 and have them re-examined and invalidated where possible.  We’ll be doing this in the context of a strong open source community that includes other troll hunters like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Open Innovation Network – both of whom have a strong interest in protecting open technology from rent-seeking trolls.

Patent trolls get paid because short-sighted companies make the decision to pay. Simply put, it is usually cheaper in the short run to pay a troll than it is to litigate. It is also cheaper to give a schoolyard bully your lunch money than it is to visit a doctor. The thing is, once you pay the bully, he’ll just come back again and again and again. Eventually, that lunch money adds up to a lot more than a doctor’s visit. In the long run the best way to deal with a bully is to punch him square in the face. You might take a beating, but if you do it every time? The bully will find easier prey.

I don’t like letting these matters go quietly. In my experience, it’s better to be aggressive and "stab, shoot and hang” them, then dissolve them in acid. Or simply nuke them from orbit, it is the only way to be sure.

Don't hold back on letting us know how you really feel, Joshua.

Anyway, he also notes that the lawyer, Tumey, appears to have filed in the wrong venue (which one is not indicated), and so Mycroft is seeking to move the case, and then it's going to go after Tumey for legal fees. Good for them.

Filed Under: joshua montgomery, patent trolls, patents, shakedowns, tod tumey, voice assistant
Companies: mycroft ai


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 10:58am

    Only one way to deal with riff-raff like trolls.

    Stomp them all. God will sort them out.

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

  2. identicon
    AricTheRed, 13 Feb 2020 @ 10:59am

    Vaya con Dios Joshua.

    BTW, I'm a devout Athiest so this is saying something.

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

  3. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:15am

    Patent Trolls... they mostly come at night. Mostly.

    We've got a dozen canisters of CN-20, I say we roll them down there and gas the whole fucking nest.

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

  4. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:18am

    Re: Only one way to deal with riff-raff like trolls.

    Or one could just blow up the bridge. Crushed trolls are more tender.

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

  5. identicon
    anon, 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:24am

    that's a 'do it on a computer' patent

    that's a 'do it on a computer' patent modified to 'talk to a computer'

    I think a copy of Star Trek IV from 1986 should invalidate that patent.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Only one way to deal with riff-raff like trolls.

    Tender they may be, but I understand the taste is awful, no matter how long they're in the oven.

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

  7. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Only one way to deal with riff-raff like trolls.

    I said more tender, not actually tender. In the old days, before refrigeration, meat became gamy quickly and methods of cooking were developed to mask those flavors. So I am recommending a braise (a method used for less tender cuts), defined by searing the meat then cooking slowly for a long time in liquid. A strongly spiced broth could help to ameliorate the taste, though I do lack experience with this particular protein, so no guarantee on the results.

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

  8. identicon
    Baron von Robber, 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:45am

    Quick Typo fix

    Cloudlfare -> Cloudflare

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

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:52am

    'Now go away or we shall taunt you a second time.'

    Nice to see yet another company coming to the realization that the only real way to deal with the legal extortionists that are patent trolls is to make them pay for going after you.

    Sure it may cost you more in the short term, but as they rightly noted after you've paid once you've made it clear that you will pay out and made a target of yourself such that you'll be paying more and more over time.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:58am

    Prisoners sir?

    NO QUARTER TO BE GIVEN

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 12:08pm

    Newegg sucks. They don't do right by the customer. If you get lucky and deal with them without a problem, thank the stars above.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Quick Typo fix

    What's cloudflair's fare? nazi nonsense.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 12:10pm

    Re: that's a 'do it on a computer' patent

    I don't get why people are so bent over software (and business system) patents. The US is increasingly irrelevant in tech anyway, who cares what the outmoded society wants to do, but cannot, in the digital domain? Host where there is liberty, and give the finger to the boomer fools who attempt to impose their will, uselessly!

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    gotta learn to spell "atheist" before you can claim devotion to it

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

  15. identicon
    TripMN, 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:36pm

    Re:

    Newegg used to be the gold standard of buying computer parts online, but then they got bought out by a Chinese tech company and things haven't been the same since. The quality of their customer service and willingness to make things right has gone way down.

    That still doesn't take away from the fact that the leaders of Newegg took this stance at one time and were successful with it.

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re:

    "...claim devotion to it"? lol

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: that's a 'do it on a computer' patent

    Blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah.

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

  18. identicon
    Annonymouse, 13 Feb 2020 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Only one way to deal with riff-raff like trolls.

    I recomend avoiding the intestinal discomfort and just relegating them to a robust bacterial digester to produce useful fertilizer instead of the toxic waste they are based on.

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

  19. identicon
    Annonymouse, 13 Feb 2020 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Prisoners sir?

    Except in a roll wrapped in a fist.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    uh, you must be a moron?

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

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Quick Typo fix

    I, for one, did not see that coming.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: that's a 'do it on a computer' patent

    A patent is meant to be an invention, while these trolls are patenting predictions without any clue on how to actually implement their prediction, and then go on to try and tax anybody that implements anything vaguely similar to their vague patent.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 4:57pm

    Re:

    Just built yet another machine with parts from Newegg and had zero issues. Maybe you just got unlucky? Perspective is a funny thing.

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

  24. icon
    MikeVx (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 7:35pm

    Hey, Mycroft! Whats' the weather like?

    A bit of drift: I have one of the Mark I Mycroft units, it arrived in a box labeled "Prototype". I have it controlling my house lights by acting as a voice proxy to an OpenHAB controller. It also makes for a smart alarm clock that I can ask to go off at specific times or offsets into the future. It has this nifty retro-robot look with two rings of LEDs for "eyes" and an LED grid for information display (Weather icons, data or time) and "mouth" movements when speaking. It is not on a par with Echo or Home devices, but it works if you keep it's limits in mind.

    Less drift: The voice parsing is a bit slow, but for the most part, it works. I just asked it "Who is Christine McGlade?", it paused for nearly 20 seconds before coming back with the answer that she is a Canadian media executive who used to host "You Can't Do That on Television."

    "Hey, Mycroft! Sue the socks off of Turney LLP."

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

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: that's a 'do it on a computer' patent

    This is very interesting. I must say, I agree with everything you have to say about Obama.

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

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Re:

    Well bless your bloomers.

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

  27. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 14 Feb 2020 @ 3:21am

    Need a browser extension

    Anonymous posters have rights.

    I'm tired of reading douche comments.

    Can someone please code up a browser extension so I don't have to read those douche comments if I choose not to?

    E
    P.S. Anon posters - don't take this personally. You're not persons. You're just douches.

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

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2020 @ 5:38am

    Re: Need a browser extension

    "You're not persons"
    Am I at least three fifths of a person?

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

  29. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 17 Feb 2020 @ 1:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Only one way to deal with riff-raff like trolls.

    "So I am recommending a braise (a method used for less tender cuts), defined by searing the meat then cooking slowly for a long time in liquid."

    I'm afraid no matter how you want to cook Troll the end result is still something only an unsanctioned landfill or long-time storage would take off your hands.

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

  30. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 17 Feb 2020 @ 1:59am

    Re: Patent Trolls... they mostly come at night. Mostly.

    "We've got a dozen canisters of CN-20, I say we roll them down there and gas the whole fucking nest."

    You mean the patent office?

    Sadly, the parts of the herd professing belief in the religious tenets of imaginary...err...intellectual property, are neither clearly marked for easy recognition nor do they congregate in discrete, easily burned or poisoned nests.

    Otherwise your idea makes a lot of sense. IP, like all other old-style religions demanding human sacrifice and punishment over blasphemy and heresy, should have no part in modern life.

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

  31. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 17 Feb 2020 @ 2:04am

    Re: Re: Need a browser extension

    "Am I at least three fifths of a person?"

    That depends. Are you a troll? If so you're not in the proper phyla to be termed a "person" to begin with.

    If not, well, the average identity-less AC needs to make their posts just about five times more concise and logical than a validated poster with a record so you could say most AC's are less than 1/5th of a person in the eyes of the normal online community, even when they aren't trolling.

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

  32. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 18 Feb 2020 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Patent Trolls... they mostly come at night. Mostly.

    All true, but really, since the CEO's 'nuke from orbit' line was from ALIENS, I was just responding in kind.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnHmUk_J6xQ

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

  33. icon
    nasch (profile), 19 Feb 2020 @ 7:01am

    Re: Need a browser extension

    Can someone please code up a browser extension so I don't have to read those douche comments if I choose not to?

    If you use Firefox and have some coding skills, you could write a greasemonkey script to do it.

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


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