“Leaving aside the morality of such an approach…”

My favorite punching bag is back in the news yesterday.  Was back in the news yesterday?  Is back in the news, and it came out yesterday?  Ah, verb tense and subject-verb agreement, you slay me.

Nate?  You appear to be have a PR problem.   Techdirt’s Glyn Moody published an article on Thursday discussing the fact that the shine is coming off of the Intellectual Ventures business model.  One would argue (and by “one” I mean me…I would argue) that the shine was never there.  IV was and is and always was going to be a patent troll.  They don’t foster innovation, they foster bullying and its ugly cousin from Reno, extortion.  If they really fostered innovation, why haven’t they brought a single product to market?  Because you know what would bring in a return for their investors?  Bringing a product to market.  But they haven’t done that.  IV in all of it’s “we foster innovation!” has fostered exactly no innovation, which reminds me of my favorite line from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:

Salah!  I told you no camels, that’s five camels.  Can’t you count?

Classic.

This quote from Glyn is important analysis, in my opinion (emphasis mine):

It will be interesting to see if IV starts suing companies more aggressively in an attempt to get the money rolling in — and what it does if that fails to deliver the kind of returns investors are presumably hoping for. That could well happen if those being sued sense that IV is under pressure, and decide as a result to opt for a long, hard — and expensive — fight in the courts to exploit that fact.

This is what should happen, and I hope this plays out like he predicts it might.  A long, hard fight is what it’s going to take to get these guys to go away.  I need to spend some time this weekend catching up on insanity workouts reading up on the recent successes against trolls.  Fark farked a troll, I remember writing about that and should probably link back to myself…  There’s got to be some common denominator in the cases that they lose, something that can be used to fight them again and again.  Nothing like a little light research on what promises to be a rainy weekend in Troll Heaven.  (Read:  Texas, though not specifically the Eastern District thereof.)

I want to pull out another quote, because it speaks to the heart and soul (as if these guys have one, but anyway) of the matter:

Instead, it really seems no different from your common-or-garden troll, hoping to hit the jackpot by picking up a patent that a successful company later finds it simply must license or risk going out of business. Leaving aside the morality of such an approach,

“Leaving aside the morality of such an approach…”  Here’s where I got off the train when I first started following this new business model in 2001.  I have trouble doing that, you know?  Leaving aside the morality.  What these trolls are doing is wrong.  It’s not right.  A really famous guy once said “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are expedient.”  Better put, at the risk of offending the guy who literally wrote The Book, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

Patent trolling is a bad business model.  I still recommend pooling resources to bring them down, but maybe the good old American investor will get the party started for us by aiming at IV?

One could hope.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

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Unite and Conquer

Looks like Article One Partners is going to start helping the little guy.

I love this company.  They are hitting the patent problem where it starts, working to find prior art.  This does two things:  It helps the USPTO issue better patents that are not so similar to previously issued patents which causes everyone time and money during litigation, and it help defeat the trolls by invalidating nefarious patents that they sue over to begin with.  Good on them!  And?  The founder is a girl.  Take that, Good Ol’ Boys network. (Not a feminazi, I just like it when women come up with great ideas and run big companies.)

Here’s an interesting take on the trolls that I hadn’t heard before (emphasis mine):

 It is the frivolous complaints that have become the nemesis of mobile app developers.  Frivolous complaints give the industry a black eye, particularly those non-practicing entities that have fairly engaged in the research and development necessary to innovate only to have their innovations serially copied and patent rights infringed.

Huh?  Trolls (OK, NPEs, whatever) don’t innovate.  Having a great idea and patenting it is not innovation.  Having a great idea, making something of value out of it, and then (possibly) patenting it is innovation.  Bazillions of people have brilliant ideas every single day.  But not bazillions of people have the energy, motivation to change, and stick-to-itivenes to make it happen.  I don’t think people should be rewarded, via a patent or otherwise, just for having a great idea.  You’ve got to take that idea and makes something with it, right?  I understood the very definition of a troll/NPE to be that they don’t do that.  Hell, it’s in the name, people:  Non Practicing Entity.  So I’m not sure how Gene Quinn can claim what he just did in the quoted statement.  Yeah, they did the R&D necessary to innovate, but then they want to stand on their idea and say “Hey, you want to make something out of it?  Pay me first.”  That’s just dumb.

I’m not the grammar police, but really?

Typically I am not one to say that patent infringement lawsuits are responsible for stunning the growth of an industry,

“Stunting”.  The word you’re looking for here Gene is “stunting”.

the world’s largest patent research community, today announced the formation of a partnership with the Appsterdam Legal Foundation, a global trade organization for mobile software developers.

This is what I was getting at with my last post.  Join forces and take these guys down.  That’s the only way to fight a bully:  Peace through strength, may Ronald Reagan rest in peace.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

The Godfather (i.e., Nathan Mhyrvold)

Great article by Jeff John Roberts.

First up, I’d love to be the one to find the link between IV and Lodsys.  Talk about a bounty…why hasn’t someone issued one to the first intrepid reporter who can prove a link?  That’s how it’s done folks…although if I had the time and resources I’d do it just for the “I told you so” value.

Second, this sounds very Mark Cuban-ish:

Namely, before it began its suing spree, IV made sure that many of its potential critics became its investors.

Well played, IV.  And it’s exactly what people like Mark Cuban, who purports himself to be a patent expert, have decided to do.  “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”  Bah, humbug.  You’re telling me the likes of Mark Cuban can’t find a way to beat the trolls without becoming (part owner of) one?  C’mon.  You disappoint.  Someone, somewhere has to find a better business model.  Oh wait, someone already did.  The problem is, that model only covers patents that are still at play.

Someone is going to have to solve the problem of the trolls who are suing over what they own.  I say you create a non-profit collaborative defense fund.  You reach out to each and every company that is sued by the trolls, and you know that information is available via either Patent Freedom, RPX, or, if you have to strip it yourself, from the US Court dockets, and get them to pony up some money.  Pool resources and every time the trolls fight, no matter who they fight, you fight back.  Get in bed with your enemies against a common goal.  These trolls are not bottomless pits of money.  They are individual companies that are suing Deep Pockets.  Well, guess what happens when Deep Pockets joins up with another Deep Pockets?  Follow the math here…DEEPER POCKETS.  Deeper than the trolls.

That’s how you beat them at their own game.  It’s what I tell my sons when the schoolyard bully picks on them.  Knock that sucker to the ground but good.  If you can’t do it alone?  Round up your posse, as we say in Texas, and git ‘er done that way.   But whatever you do, don’t ever, ever hand over your lunch money.

Third, there’s this gem from our buddy Nate:

Myhrvold this week portrayed his patent practices as simply another form of capital allocation. In his view, the company’s trolling is a good thing because it raises money for Intellectual Venture’s experiments which will, in turn, produce more patents.

How about producing products?  Inventing something new and, oh, I dunno, useful?  Producing more patents should not be the goal here, unless all you do is sue people for infringing on them.  Oh, wait…

And finally, there’s the understatement of the year forever:

The problem, of course, is that patents are not synonymous with value and innovation.

No.  No they are not.

Just sayin’,

IPTT