Who Talked About The Law Of Unintended Consequences? Oh Yeah, Me.

Last Wednesday I had the honor of speaking (via Skype) at the Nordic IPR conference in Stockholm, Sweden. The title of my presentation was “Non-Practicing Entities and You: How To Define and Defend Against The Dark Arts”, which means that at any moment now J.K. Rowling will beat down my door, copyright infringement lawsuit in hand and I will be forced to charm her into not only not suing me for the use of her cool phrase but also persuade her to give me an autograph so that my kids will love me because y’all? I am totally not above bribing my offspring.

Wait, what was I saying?

Right, the presentation.  One of the points that I made was that there are a lot of different legislative solutions floating around in the US in an attempt to curb and/or eradicate the scourge of the Patent Troll.  Lest the EU fall victim to the same idea that the government is the best way to solve this issue (it isn’t), I wanted to point out one of the main reasons why:  The Law of Unintended Consequences.

Fresh off that opportunity, I read this article over yonder at Bloomberg and was so frightened that I had to actually cover my eyes for parts of it and read through my hands, similar to the way I watched Jurassic Park all those years ago because velociraptors.  {shudder} 

Sam-Neill-encounters-velo-001 IP Troll Tracker

MY WORST NIGHTMARE. (after patent trolls, obviously)


This is the part I’m talking about:

Taking advantage of new rules created by Congress three years ago, hedge funds have increasingly been filing challenges to pharmaceutical patents. Some may be angling for payouts to drop their claims, while others are shorting the stock, betting that the manufacturers’ shares will plummet.

Using the new Post Grant Review and Inter Partes Review procedures in the America Invents Act, hedge funds are extorting money from pharmaceutical companies by either filing or threatening to file for re-exam.  I’m no genius (I totally am) but I’m thinking that’s not quite what Smith and Leahy had in mind.  Looks like someone else thinks so too:

“When we developed these proceedings, we never thought people would use them this way, in an effort to move stock or as an investment vehicle,” said Bernard Knight, the former general counsel for the patent office, who was there when new rules for challenging patents were written.

This is the whole problem with making changes to laws to solve a very specific market problem. People/companies/lawyers will always find ways around whatever laws you put in their way.  Clearly, we can’t have no laws, that would be like living in back woods West Virginia.  (I can say that because I lived in West Virginia at one point time. That’s how that works, people.) The point though is that when you use the law to try and prevent one or two specific bad apples from playing the game, you end up with side effects that weren’t quite what you had in mind.  I mean, it’s right there in the article, for Pete’s sake:

The legislation had an unexpected consequence: Hedge funds, which didn’t have the right to challenge patents in court, now had a venue to bring such cases.


Yes, we have been through this before. With the AIA.


These hedge funds are going around the court system straight to the PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeals Board) and using that process to get better deals. That’s pretty sick and twisted, no?  Or, as Hans Sauer, deputy general counsel for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, put it, “illustrative of something that’s out of kilter”.

“Out of kilter”??  Oh Hans, you diplomat, you.

This is the point I’m trying to make about legislation designed solely, or so it seems, to prevent patent trolling.  One of the points that I made in my conference presentation was that trolls are shifty and will find their way around whatever crafty laws you’re crafty enough to create.  The Hedge Fund Gods are already doing it with the last round of “necessary changes to patent law”, the AIA.

For those of you drafting new legislation, I’d ask simply: do we want to go back to that well to have more water thrown in our faces?



{Scary dino pic found here. Slick beer/car chart found here.}

Chris Hull of Life360 Beats AGIS, Necessitating A Second ‘Dear Piece of Shit’ Letter

I know the Life 360 app because my husband installed it on my iPhone prior to a trip to NYC.  I went there because first of all, New York City is the best place ever for short visits where you don’t mind not seeing the sky and are comfortable standing out like a sore thumb because you’re from Texas and bring your boot bling with you everywhere.


Secondly, I was there to support my in laws through my Father-in-law’s cancer scare.  The city is built on a grid and the streets and avenues are all numbered and the street signs are very clear so pretty much?  If you get lost in NYC there is something seriously amiss with your internal GPS.  Nevertheless, all parties involved (read: elderly in-laws from Alabama) felt it might be best if I had some way to check in from the mean streets of mid-town Manhattan when I would venture out after dark to get my Subway sandwich and black and white cookie.  Fair enough.

I know the app, is my point.  I “internet met” the owner, Mr. Chris Hull, when he potty-mouthed a reply to a supposed patent troll and I wrote about it here.  Today, Joe Mullin (Hi Joe!) wrote up the end of the story and boy are there some gold nuggets here, my friends.

The issue I had back then was that under my definition, AGIS didn’t look or feel like a patent troll to me.  They had built a product using their patented technology (LifeRing) for one, as opposed to just buying up old stodgy patents and trying to litigate them.  They only have a portfolio of 11 patents, which is somewhere south of the 500 bagillion that, say, Intellectual Ventures has.  Still, I understood Chris’s frustration, as he had been sued a few times in the past by legitimate trolls and was smooth fed up with it.

I predicted then, and it looks like I was right, that he wouldn’t get the patents invalidated (they weren’t).  But what he did do is spend a fair amount of money fighting infringement.  He won there, but that’s not why I’m adding him to my Patent Troll Fighter Heroes Gallery.

Chris Hull, you and Life360 are hereby officially inducted into the Gallery because you and your attorneys succinctly nailed one of the underlying problems in the patent industry, and were not afraid to say it:

[AGIS’s] lawyers sold him a bill of goods, that he invented this very well-known concept.”

Sometimes the trolls collect old patents and go out and hammer everyone for them, a business model IP Nav and Intellectual Ventures and Marathon Group espouse.

This isn’t the case here.  Mr. Beyer (CEO of AGIS) had attorneys who saw an opportunity, thanks to the likes of the real and larger trolls, to try and capitalize on patents when they weren’t able to capitalize as well as they’d like to on actual products.

That’s a true shame, because I think in the absence of the patent trolling industry the outcome of this would have been completely different.  The dialogue on the front end would have gone differently and perhaps resulted in, if not a patent licensing agreement, some sort of synergy between Life360 and AGIS.

Because his lawyers are jerks and took a page from the trolls, Mr. Beyer is also a victim here:

Beyer, reached by telephone yesterday, said he “resents Mr. Hull characterizing me as a troll.” His company has sold software for 10 years, and won one contract in 2015 already.

“I also resent him dragging AGIS and me through the mud because of ads,” he said, referring to the Stop AGIS and malcomkbeyer.com websites. “I’ve never said anything bad about Mr. Hull and I don’t intend to. I’m exhausted, and I’m going to have to take time to think about life, and this in general.”

What Mr. Beyer needs to think about, in addition to life in general, is sending a “Dear Piece of Shit” letter of his own to his attorneys for getting him into this mess.


Professors At Stanford Do Not Have Coffee Together, Study Shows

A few weeks ago (was it days ago? I can’t remember..between all the rain and gloomy clouds in the Houston area for the past FOREVER AND A DAY and the time change and Robert DeNiro being sick, I can’t figure out which way is up these days) some guys at Stanford published a paper about how patents <> innovation.  For the un-mathed among us, “<>” is equivalent to “not equal to”.  <– See, that’s pretty funny if you think about it.


Allow me to introduce Robert DeNiro, my (now) 11 week old labrador retriever, who is a bit of a hot-house flower and gets very sick if you so much as look at him cross-eyed.

But then this morning on The Twits (if we can call it The Googs, we can call it “The Twits”, amiright?) I found this article by another guy at Stanford.   Mr. Haber, we’ll call him, because that’s his name, posits that patent trolls not only exist, in stark contrast to the opinion of many inventors and people wont to disavow us of the notion of patent reform, but that they are good for innovation.

<blink, blink>

So I have a question…do you people at Stanford ever talk to one another?  Ever get together over coffee or a game of Jenga?  Do you vet your theories with one another before you spout off at the study/blog post and completely contradict one another?  Just askin’.

Mr. Haber says that not only do patent trolls exist, but that they:

may actually benefit inventors and the innovation economy,


[offering] insurance and liquidity [to inventors],

Is this news?  Because, honestly, didn’t someone (ahem) and probably other people say this exact same thing long about three, four years ago?  Yes, yes she did (queue quote from backgrounder):

Now, it could be argued that the purpose of an NPE is altruistic, in that they provide a way for inventors to both obtain a patent in the first place, and to seek compensations for their use by the Big Guns of industry.  This happens in two ways:  Firstly, Bob the Inventor from Boise, Idaho is not very wealthy.  The patent process is long and expensive and confusing (hello? It’s the government we’re talking about here) and he will need help getting his invention in front of the patent examiners and that nice big GRANTED stamp he needs on the final paperwork.  NPE’s help people do this.  They provide the money up front plus a little extra for Bob, in exchange for either owning the patent outright at the end of the process, or taking a license to it.

You can tell how long ago this was written because back then, PAE was NPE.  So there’s that.  If the Gaye’s can get money out of Pharrel and Thicke for what they did, I oughta be able to pay off the house with what Mr. Haber just said because it’s the same thing I, and many others, have already said.  The idea of a patent holder needing an intermediary is not new or even particularly loathsome.  It’s not even the same thing as a patent troll, it’s sort of in a way, the opposite.

In patent trolling (try and follow me here), the PAE proactively seeks out the patent, usually an old and bad one, and litigates with it.


How is that the same thing as a PAE who’s helping an inventor get his idea into a product?  Jiminy Cricket, folks, it’s not.

Harvey Spector eyeroll

Besides which, didn’t we just learn from Robin Feldman & Mark A. Lemley that patents don’t equal innovation anyway?  So why would you say that we need PAEs (which you mistakenly, in this case, equate to patent trolls) to help people with their patents if patents aren’t going to help us innovate?

Seriously, you all should introduce yourselves.  I can help, I’m a bit of a matchmaker in my spare time…just ask all my unmarried friends.  Oh wait, I don’t have any.  See? I’m that good!  I can hook you all up, gimme a call.

Before I go, I have to call out one more quote from the Haber article:

As he said, “It not like someone puts a gun to someone’s head and says, ‘Sell me your patent.'”

Getting serious for a moment, which y’all know is super hard for me, I disagree.  I think that companies like Intellectual Ventures and IP Nav do exactly that on occasion.  They prey on inventors who don’t understand the system or who have no where else to turn (like to Ideal Asset, for example) and they take them for all they’ve got.

I like Stanford because it’s cool and nothing but smart people abound, but ya’ll should really sync up on your patent position.



{Image of RobbieD from me.  Image of Top 10 Litigated Patents also from me.}





Trolls Set Their Beady Little Eyes On A Couple Of New Targets

Tech patents have been the trolls’ bailiwick for a long time now and don’t you think they’re getting a little sick of the same ol’, same ol’?  I mean, even trolls get bored sometimes and need to spice things up. Plus, the tech industry fights itself often enough that the trolls don’t really need to stoke that fire anymore.  (Hello, smart phone patent wars spaghetti graph.)

What’s the next ambulance to chase?  Meghana Keshavan  and Jay Nuttall seems to think that it’s Big Pharma, and I agree.  They actually say “life sciences”, which includes more than just pharmaceutical companies, but I think pharma will be part of the crowd.  So who’s doing the hitting?  You’ll see a lot of familiar faces on this list:

The recent Steptoe paper, titled “The Patent Trolls Are Coming… To Medtech,” outlines what it views the most egregiously trollish NPEs in the life sciences space. These include Acacia Research Corp., WiLan Inc., Intellectual Ventures Inc., IPNav, My Health Inc. and DE Partners Golden Rule LLC.

Do you mean to tell me that the life sciences industry sees Intellectual Ventures and IPNav as patent trolls?  Will wonders never cease.

The article upon which Mehgana Keshavan based her write-up is found here, and it should be required reading for a number of reasons:

1. The side-bar box on Page four provides a list of secret weapons used by trolls.  The first one is key: “Trolls don’t care what you think.”  Some of them even encourage you to think of them as thugs.  Not that I’m talking about anyone specifically like Erich Spangenberg because I’m totally not even though I linked to his article and posted his picture.  Make no association between those two things.


 2.  He correctly points out on page 3 that trolls follow the money.  That’s why they went with tech first.  Once that’s played out, they’ll head to the next big thing: biomedical devices and pharmaceuticals. Then I think they’ll head to oil, but we’ll get to that.

3.  Jay says on page 4 that one way to anti-troll yourself is to be a strong defendant.  How do you be a strong defendant?  He has his ways, but I say one way is to know how the trolls have asserted their patents in the past.  You can get that information by looking it up on PACER, or paying the likes of Lex Machina or RPX to provide it for you.  That will tell you where they’ve already litigated.  Or, you can encourage demand letter recipients to enter them in That Patent Tool.  The sooner we start tracking pre-litigation movement on these guys, the bigger our advantage will be!

It’s great to see a law firm partner willing to step out, similar to the way Goodwin | Procter did with their Guide to NPE Litigation.  Steptoe & Johnson LLP is throwing their hat in the ring with this paper, and they hit the mark.  We’ve also had Intellectual Ventures threatened with getting the Jones Day-lights beaten out of them.  I think it’s cool that firms are taking the problem on rather than just playing to the side that will pay them the most.  It’s a start, considering that lawyers, after all, always the win no matter what.


No shame in my game. I {heart} TMZ.

There are lots of reasons why biomedical and other life sciences companies will be patent troll targets, no question. But I think now, like I did then, that oil companies will have a target on their back as well.  Why?  Let’s spell it out:

  • When the price of oil goes lower, companies invest fewer resources in trying to get it out of the ground because their profit margins are directly related.  So they turn more to technology to help, rather than roughneck boots on the ground, which are more expensive.  This technology results in patents, and patents make them vulnerable to trolls.
  • Big Oil is increasingly driven by software.  They use it to analyze their tool usage and get equipment out of the ground before it hits the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) hour mark, they use it to price jobs, they use it to predict where the next big find will be, they use it create specialty invoicing systems…lots of things.  The Alice decision hurt the trolls’ ability to beat people up with software patents, but the decision wasn’t the “kill all software patents forever” edict some hoped it would be.  Since trolls seem to think they can apply spurious patents to software of all kinds, this is a hole they could worm through.
  • Seeing the way other industries have been hit, they have started buying up patents, possibly as a defensive move as I pointed out in the Q4 2013 Quarterly Troll Review.


It’s hard to fully predict where the trolls will go.  Did anyone see patent litigation as the next big thing, once actual ambulance chasing went out of vogue, and then tort reform killed the dust docket?  Problably not.  But there’s one thing we can predict with 100% accuracy:

Trolls will go somewhere.  They always do.



{Harvey Levin image found here. Erich’s picture courtesy of #thuglife. Cool silhouette image of oil wells found here.}


SAWS? What SAWS? Nothing To See Here (Anymore), Folks…

In such a time as this, it helps to have a translator so that We The People can understand what just happened here.  Thankfully, IPTT is on the job with the PTT™ (Patent Troll Translator), which can be used not only to translate patent troll-speak, but USPTO-speak as well.

And here we go…

“Upon careful consideration, the USPTO has concluded that the SAWS program has only been marginally utilized and provides minimal benefit,” the post, which was published Monday night, reads.


“By ‘marginally utilized’ we mean ‘arbitrarily utilized, depending on who offered to pay us the most’, and by ‘provides minimal benefit’, we mean ‘Oh, hell, you caught us!’

Further, upon being asked by Dennis Crouch (and probably others that it’s too early in the morning for me to go dig up) to provide statistical data surrounding our Sensitive Application Warning System, we decided that we’d better kill it before FOIA makes us disclose even more information, that will make us look stupid at best and devious at worst.”

Here’s the beef:  the USPTO had a system that allowed the examiners to flag certain applications for extended review and they didn’t have to tell anyone they did it.  Eeps.  Here’s how the process is supposed to work:

Usually, when you submit a patent application, it requires the approval of one or two examiners who work with the office. Those applications can take anywhere from 22 to 29 months to be issued, depending on fees you pay to speed up the process or the lawyers you have representing you.

Emphasis mine.  Oh good grief.  Ms. Lee?  This is something you need to fix.  You shouldn’t be able to pay your way to the head of the line, and you need to have examiners who are lawyers so that they are on a level playing field with the people submitting the applications for the inventors.  I said all this once before after interviewing a former examiner.

“The patent office has a tremendous latitude in making these illegal practices, whether it’s by SAWS or other processes,” Hyatt told Yahoo Tech in January.

That’s not the 1/2 of it, if anything my interviewee has to say about it is true.  I’m really hoping that Michelle Lee is able to make some changes in the examination process for two reasons:

  1. It will improve the quality of patents.
  2. It will take that bat out of the hands of inventors who want to gripe that the process is the problem.

Because as for #2 right now, they’re right.


Beyond the fact that the program wasn’t publicized and the people stuck in it may or may not have known (did they, can anyone confirm?), there’s this bit that sticks in my craw worse than line jumpers:

So, say you’re an inventor who has founded a startup. You’re waiting for your patent to be issued, so you can start your company. In fact, some of your funding may depend solely on your ability to secure the rights to that innovation. If you were placed in the SAWS program, you could be potentially dragged along for years. Meanwhile, you might lose funding or face additional competition.

WHY does funding depend on a patent being issued?  I can’t get over that.  If a patent is all you have, you need to rethink your pitch deck.  Besides which, to the point of that last sentence, competition is good!  We all get better by playing against someone who’s better than us, right Gene Quinn? I dunno, like I said about the Fuzzibunz lady: are you an entrepreneur or a patent-preneur?


In the end, there’s two ways to look at the death of SAWS, the first being this quote by Kate Gaudry:

“This is a good indication that they’re willing to objectively step back and look at their programs and efforts, and listen to their stakeholders,” Kate Gaudry, an associate at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, told Yahoo Tech. “And change what needs to be changed.”

Um, okay.  Let’s see if Thomas Franklin, also of Kilpatrick Townsend has a better take:

“I’m not sure this is a win for transparency to say: you found this program so we’re shutting it down,” he told Yahoo Tech.

Yeah, the second one.





Patents Haven’t Fostered Innovation For Years, Is How I Read This

I’m fond of saying that I hope to live long enough to go back and read everything I’ve favorited on Twitter.  That’s how I use the favorite button: to bookmark things so I’ll go back and read them when I have time.  Sometimes it’s because I actually agree with what was tweeted, but that’s not a solid guarantee.

This weekend I had time to peruse some stuff I’d bookmarked because it was cold and rainy which meant i couldn’t mow and weed the yard that’s looking pretty pathetic, virtually guaranteeing a letter from the Home Owner’s Association telling me I need to step up my landscaping game, and that’ll be a shame because then I’ll have to point out to them that it took 15 years to get a “No Soliciting” sign put up in my neighborhood and if they get 15 years to solve a problem then so do I.  #BecauseChildish

To the point (y’all know I always get there eventually), I read this Newsweek article about How Patents Kill Innovation And Hold Companies Back and was struck immediately by a couple of things:

1.  The citation of this article from 2012 by Lenny Kravetz that pointed out that “Over the past several years, the average popularity of patents has steadily declined among funded technology start-ups.” So we’ve known for almost three years then that arming yourself with a stable of patents didn’t equal success and/or innovation?

2.  Ditto this Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine study, put out the following year, which also indicates that it’s getting harder and harder to tie patents to actual innovation.  (I smell a trend, and it wasn’t started by the Stanford study.)  Tying them to litigation and lawyer incomes however, is not such a stretch.

I don’t understand why people are barking so loudly now about the Stanford study that says essentially the same thing?  Is it news, really?  Because it looks to me like a strikingly similar conclusion has already been reached.  Twice.

3.  This quote:

This brings us to IBM, which is such a patent hoarder it could inspire its own A&E TV show. The company recently announced that in 2014 it received arecord 7,534 patents, marking the 22nd straight year IBM has topped the list of most patents by a company. Over those 22 years, the company’s inventors have won more than 81,500 U.S. patents, swamping the total of any other company. Clearly, IBM spends a lot of time and resources seeking and securing patents, believing it’s the path to industry dominance.

Well played on the hoarder comment, lol.  Whenever I need inspiration to purge stuff from my house, which is almost never because I run a pretty tight ship, I watch a single episode and I’m spurred to give away anything that isn’t nailed down, living or not.


I disagree with the last sentence though…IBM may well spend time and resources building a patent arsenal, but it is it because they think it’s a path to industry dominance?  Or is it because they need a war chest to defend themselves, against trolls and other threats?  The best defense is a good offense, as they say.

4. Another quote:

And then some ancient patent circles back in the form of a troll with a bite—a patent that wouldn’t exist if nobody thought it was worth filing in the first place—and CEOs complain.

I don’t think troll patents “wouldn’t exist if nobody thought [they were] worth filing”.  I think in many cases they shouldn’t even have been issued in the first place, not least due in part to the issues with the USPTO examiner process.  Additionally, lawyers who excel at wordsmithing can go back and make any patent apply to any successful industry.  It’s what they are paid to do by patent troll companies who have no other way to be profitable but to sue other people.

I’m still not at the tipping point where we say patents are stupid and we shouldn’t even issue them anymore.  But despite the fact that the first words out of any of the Shark Tank mouths is “do you have a patent?”, thus perpetuating the now-dying notion that they equal innovation, I don’t think they’re serving the same purpose as originally intended: To promote the useful arts and sciences.



{Pile of junk image found here?.}

The Dire Straits And Stanford Weigh In On Patent Trolls

Something about Stanford University says “totally legit” to me.  Why is that?  I’m not even sure, because I’m not a California college kinda gal.  It just seems like anything that comes out of that neck of the woods is a good thing, and the recent article about the US patent system is no exception.

Jeff John Roberts, who wins the prize for “Most First Names in a Row”, wrote a piece last week about the current state of patent affairs, and how patents actually do little to facilitate technology transfers, his comments based on a study done by a couple of Stanford guys.  In said study, they found out that patents purchased from trolls are old and useless and amounted to nothing more than a tax on innovation.

I’m not sure how this is news, because a while back I took the top 10 most litigated patents right out of the NPE Litigation playbook that Goodwin Proctor cooked up and did a little bit of Tableau magic on it:


I was stunned to find that the average age of those patents was over 11 years.  (Hint: I was totally not stunned.)  So, yeah, that part isn’t news, particularly when so many of the patents are technology-related and therefore they age at an accelerated rate.  One year in technology is like 15 years in any other industry, on account of how quickly things change.  I taught a class recently with a student who mentioned a Zip drive.  Zip.Drive.  Raise your hand if you even know what that is anymore, and then harken back to the days when it was the bees knees as it topped out at 750 megs of storage space.  OMG, I can now fit that on a thumb drive the size of my…thumb.


Connect it using a parallel port. Oh, for cute!!


But what is news, according to Jeff and the study, is that Universities are singing the same song, and just as badly out of tune:

The paper also notes that the same phenomenon, in which licensees pay money for nothing, is also pervasive when universities are the ones wielding the patents. Instead, as with the trolls, university patent deals rarely lead to meaningful tech transfer or innovation. The findings could have important implications at a time when more universities, including MIT and Boston University, are using decades-old patents to demand money from Apple and other big companies.

Dire Straits, IP Troll Tracker

What confuses me is why on earth Universities are allowed to patent any of the things anywayIt seems a little bit desperate for Universities to try and be hangers-on to the brilliance of their students and professors if their stated goal is to advance knowledge for its own sake.

It’s interesting though that they have the same track record that patent trolls do in terms of using old patents to extort new money from companies.  And here I used to argue that they were the purest form of NPE:  they weren’t trying to extort money!  They were simply taking all that Sheldon and Leonard-ish knowledge and selling it so as to fund more and more cool stuff and to further innovation.  Survey says?  Not so much, lesson learned.

This quote from the study is key to me, and it’s something that I want to say to all of the inventors on Twitter with whom I routinely engage on the idea of how to get paid for their innovation.

A critical factual assumption that underlies this debate is whether patent licensing is in fact a mechanism for technology transfer to the licensees and the creation of new products, or whether a request for a patent license is simply a means of collecting money in exchange for agreeing not to sue.

Inventors routinely claim that they can’t make any money off their invention without patent trolls (which many claim don’t exist, Paul Morinville I’m looking at you), willing to fight dirty to get them the royalties they deserve.  First of all, do you get those royalties?  Really?  Let’s take a look at another quote:

Further, studies suggest that such rewards are not flowing. In what economists are calling the “leaky bucket,” only an estimated 20% of the payments to NPEs get back to the original inventor or into internal research and development by the NPE.

Whether the troll is an NPE or a university, you’re not really going to get your money it would seem.  Just go read how Yale handles its patents.  They start out getting 50% of the royalties, though it does go down slightly on a sliding scale.  Blech, how is that of any good to an inventor?

That’s not the whole point of the article though, getting money for your invention.  The point is to answer the question, which I’ve paraphrased because I can, “Do patents further innovation anymore, or do they just cause the exchange of money from one company/individual to another, often under duress as in the case of patent trolls?”

Great question, given that the original intent of patents was, and I quote from the US Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

Is that even what patents are doing anymore?

Or are they just money for nothing?



{Dire Straits image found here. Zip drive image found here.}