Kettle to pot: you mean we’re BOTH black?

Anyone who’s anyone has read this by now.  There are a lot of choice nuggets to pull out and frankly, I’m at a loss with where to start.  Here, in no particular order, are my thoughts:

1.  Regarding the quote that

“…Google has very few of its own patents; with Nortel’s portfolio, it could change the balance of power in the smart-phone industry.”

Google has so much more going for it than just the smart phone industry.  Google+ will out-Facebook Facebook inside of three years, no question.  This is a very clear case of something else at work in Google’s mind, in that if Google had really wanted those patents, they’d have them.  The fact that they don’t tells you the “balance of power in the smart-phone industry” is not under the first tab of their playbook.   Great Nate said it himself: “Had [Google] simply waited for the auction, it easily could have won.”  That it didn’t and they didn’t tells you they didn’t want to.

2.  With the stalking horse bid, they forced their competitors to a) pay a &@#$-ton of money, by b) getting in bed with one another.  Google, FTW.

3.  Wait, IV was going to monetize the patents and not bring a product to market?  Is that what you meant by this, Nate?

Investment companies like mine, which had been interested in Nortel’s portfolio for its potential financial return,

Let’s refer to the glossary for a definition of Patent Troll/NPE, shall we?  Or wait, perhaps IV was going to launch its own line of smart phones using Nortel’s patents and that’s what he meant by “potential financial return”.  Hey, they could have called it the “IV-IVg”!  (Hint: use your knowledge of Roman Numerals).  Maybe that’s what he meant?

4.  This is the most disingenuous quote in the whole piece:

More importantly, this sale validates the notion that patents will be a fundamental tool in the tech industry. They had been moving toward that position for years, but the magnitude of Nortel’s sale shows that they have arrived. Patents virtually define the pharmaceutical and biotech markets, and in the future they could play the same role for tech.

Mr. Myhrvold, do you honestly expect anyone to believe that you believe that the Nortel patent sale validates patents as a fundamental tool in the tech industry?  Just now that validation happened, with this huge sale?  Really?  REALLY?  Your company has been acquiring patents on a massive scale since 2000 and finally, as we all knew would happen, sued for infringement.  You’re not fooling anyone…see post title.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

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@TechDirt, patents are necessary

Stumbled upon this little dittie here:  Article about something to do with science in the public good, but I only read the sentences that had the word “patent” in them.  {Kidding.}  Here’s a quote:

The problem, it turns out, is that as with patents there is no actual data to back this up. Kealey points out that there is no historical or econometric data anywhere that supports this claim. For example, he points to the OECD’s sources of economic growth report (pdf), where it found very high correlation between economic growth and countries that had high levels of private R&D. When it came to publicly supported R&D, the report found no impact on economic growth… but, more worrying, it found evidence that public funding of science tended to crowd out private funding of R&D, which (again) correlated highly with economic growth. Now, of course, correlation is not causation, and there may be many other factors at play here. However, it is interesting that there doesn’t appear to be any direct evidence that public expenditure in science leads to economic growth.

Bolding mine.  So let’s trim it even further:

… very high correlation between economic growth and countries that had high levels of private R&D.

Color me silly, but I would argue that the reason private R&D works (i.e., contributes to growth) is because of the patent system that protects all the money spent on R&D, in that you have to pay someone to use ideas and technology that they in turn paid to researche and develop.   The patent licensee (or purchaser) can then take your leg up and build on it.  Right?  Fair?  Equitable? What am I missing?

Incidentally, this is why NPEs are so irksome: they buy patents not to further innovate, but to litigate.  “Innovate, don’t litigate” is a phrase that begs to be screen printed on t-shirts with a patent troll in a little red Ghostbusters circle-with-a-slash graphic over it. Something like this only nicer:

Proceeds from sales going to me, of course.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

But then who will create Angrier Birds?

Here’s food for thought:  what good are those Nortel patents, the ones that apply to smart phones anyway, if there’s no one around to develop apps for them?

From the article:

Software patent owners in the US have latched onto potential revenue streams to be earned from independent developers by suing over perceived infringements of their intellectual property – which can be expensive for developers to defend even if they are successful.

Wait…”software patent owners”?  That’s a generous description of patent troll, but OK.  We’ll roll with it.  Many moons ago when I was a developer, I can say with certainty that defending myself against a patent suit would have been impossible.  If the Apples and Googles of the world will not defend the people who make apps for their respective platforms, then who can blame the guy working 80 hours a week on the cheap to come up with the next Angry Birds from, you know, not working 80 hours a week on the cheap to come up with the next Angry Birds?

Right now, it’s not clear from the law if Apple or Google actually can defend their developers, so there’s also that angle.  It would be in their best interest not to bite the hands that feed them, but they may be on a short enough leash that they can’t help it.

Not every developer out there can afford to pull a @simonmaddox and take his marbles and go home, tempting though it may be.   But you can certainly see the draw of wanting to, in the face of the Lodsyses of the world (or whatever the plural of that name happens to be).

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Delawhere? Delaware, that’s where

Asked to sum up venue/jurisdiction in the Patent Troll wars, many could do it in four letters:  EDTX.  The Eastern District of Texas has long been a hotbed of activity for patent troll suits because it’s easy for Southerners to be bought off the judges are favorable to plaintiffs in these suits.  The latests statistics that I’ve seen show almost a third of all suits brought in that venue.  Quite the winning percentage!

However, tracking the lawsuits, as we are wont to do here, a small but noticeable trend is emerging.  Delaware has less than 15% of the venue market right now, but the East Coast is picking up steam and I think that will continue.  Firstly, for the obvious reason: lots of companies incorporate there.  Secondly, the targets of lawsuits are starting to argue more strenuously that “Hey!  Why are you suing me in Texas??” and asking the courts to move cases where they belong, which one would assume would be in the state of incorporation of either the plaintiff or the majority of the defendants.  This is intellectual property we’re talking about here…it’s not as if you can bring suit in every single venue where infringement occurred.  You’ve got to pick one; the state of incorporation of the patent-holder or alleged infringer is a logical choice.  Third, check out the Delaware IP blog if it’s not already on your morning reading list as it is, of course, on mine.  Without even a deep dive, there are several article on the front page with the words “Motion Denied“…looks like The Law doesn’t want these cases moving.  Fourth, T. John Ward is retiring.  Chief Justice Scalia called him a “renegade jurisdiction” because of his unwillingness to grant transfer of venue.  Not unreasonable to assume there will be some changes to how things are run down south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Someone needs to start publishing statistics on venues and put up charts and graphs showing how those venues are starting to change.   Mostly so that when I’m right, everyone will be able to see it in living color.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

 

 

Band of Brothers, patent style

The most interesting thing about this development is what it means for companies like RPX and AST.  These six titans put together their own “mini patent defense aggregator” and all rogue-like, went out and bought the most sought-after portfolio on the market.

The interest in the patents is driven by an increasingly competitive industry in which patent infringement suits between tech giants are becoming commonplace and patents, as a result, are becoming more important than ever.

Patent infringement suits  between tech giants are commonplace, so when you have a defense aggregator that allows all member companies to take a license to a portfolio, not only won’t they be sued by our NPE friends, they take each other out of the mix as well. In this case, however, it’s a much smaller Band of Brothers doing the protecting from…what?  Each other?  Sure, and also The Trolls.  But will any of them bring suit against the other suitors?  Well, let’s take a look at some commentary:

Then again, because the winners include the makers of the iPhone, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, they could use the massive patent portfolio to go after Google and Android, as well as companies that hope to compete in the world of smartphones and tablets, such as Hewlett-Packard and Intel.

This will prove an even more interesting one to watch than it already has been.

Just sayin’,

IPTT