I know, I know, not exactly news. There are plenty of people out there who think they are already are a troll. Me? I don’t think they’re a troll so much as they are a bully, but one little sentence in this article gives me pause:
Apart from the novelty, it’s not clear why anyone would use such a service. There’s no indication that the company plans to bring anything like it to market. But Microsoft found it significant enough to apply for a patent on the technology in September 2008, and this week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deemed it worthy of one.
Let us ask IV, Acacia Media, Spangenberg, et al why someone would patents something with no intention of bringing anything to market. Oh, wait…
The best part is the part about the picture they used in the application. The article does say that the image is “unattributed”, meaning it’s not something they stole from someone outright or pilfered from some poor soul’s Flickr or Pbase site (not that that’s happened to yours truly before) without giving credit. And lo, they have apologized:
The use of the skywriting image in the patent was an error and Microsoft will immediately submit the patent for re-issue proceedings to correct the drawings. Microsoft regrets
any confusion caused by getting busted for this error.
I suppose at the end of this day this quote makes the most sense:
Not that it’s the most consequential technology in the world, but accuracy in patent filings is an important principle at a time when Microsoft and others are pushing to reform the system.
This has been brewing for a while, and I think we all knew it would happen and honestly I’m surprised it took this long. I’m far less well-versed on the copyright side of intellectual property than I am the patent side, but it stands to reason that if one could monetize patents they can do the same with copyrights. Behold:
Righthaven likens itself to patent enforcers
And so it began just a few short months ago: Righthaven is the first Copyright Troll. I think this calls for a mascot. We all know the quintessential patent troll guy, which looks strikingly similar to the Tasmanian Devil, so I suppose if someone at Looney Tunes were on the ball things could get interesting. Anyway, we need a mascot for the copyright side. Any takers?
What will be different this time is that people are coming out swinging against this stuff right off the…bat. <–See what I did there? Ah, baseball. America’s past time, along with filing lawsuits. Here’s a quote from the linked article:
The new 119-page federal answer and counterclaim levels 56 charges at Righthaven covering allegations ranging from racketeering to violations of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The claim charges Righthaven lacked standing to sue over Review-Journal and Denver Post material, that it filed “extortionate lawsuits” to extract settlements from defendants and that these suits had a “dramatic chilling effect on expression on the Internet.”
I’m not so sure that last comment is true, not much has a “dramatic chilling effect on expression on the Internet”. Besides which, I question the omission of a comma between “dramatic” and “chilling”. Nevertheless, the key word in the quote is clearly “counterclaim”. Fighting this sort of thing in court from the get go is going to be key in preventing a whole new class of company from emerging and making a mess of the copyright side of things.