Comic-Con: No Crazy Costumes Required (NPR)

NPR = Not Patent Related

My first exposure to Comic-Con was the year that KOTCS came out.  (For those of you who are not ultimate Indiana Jones fans, a) why not?, b) shame on you for not knowing, c) it stands for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and d) it was 2008.)  That’s where they first announced that Karen Allen would be back to reprise her roll as the Indiana Whisperer, Marion Ravenwood.  *sigh*  She was the best of all the Jones girls, bar none.

Around these parts, however, Comic-Con stands not for that fan convention out on the left coast, but for the Comic Constitution.  The Comic Constitution was born out of a need for a certain group of then nine-year-old boys to prevent each other from stealing ideas for comic book characters.   As was the practice at that time, a group of boys would get together and draw comics during class when they should have been paying attention recess and it so happened that the creator of the Chicken Hawk and Rooster Hawk characters, a little boy we’ll call “Michael” because that’s his name, became disenfranchised with his buddies when one of them deigned to include his character in their comic.  Without asking first.  And they drew the characters ALL.WRONG because don’t you know that Chicken Hawk would never be seen holding a bow and arrow?  You don’t know that?  Oh, the humanity.

Not content to simply go ask the offender (or possibly offenders, I never quite got the whole story) to knock it off because isn’t that what nine year old boys do?  They just go up and punch each other’s lights out until the issue is resolved and then buy each other a beer, or possibly a shot of tequila?  No?  No.  That is not at all what happened here.

Evidently, Michael took it upon himself to write up a Comic Constitution.  Something akin to third grade Copyright Law, that outlines what you can and cannot do with regard to writing comics.  To wit:

The Comic Constitution

Here’s the text, verbatim:

There shall be no stealing Ideas/Characters from other peope’s comix.  The creator of the comic does not have to let it go, he/she can rip up the comic if they do not aprove.  And they have to write the owner of the comic name on the title, if they don’t they have to throw away/tear the title and writer has to write a knew one.

It’s so simple, it’s brilliant:  If you use my character without telling me, I don’t have to just ignore your gross malfeasance, I can rip your comic all to hell.  Or, you can use my character, but my name had better be on the title, bitchez.

Ask me how many times those kids got in another fight about comic strips?  It’s less than one, just to put a number on it.  And they did it all without lawyers!

So what’s the point of this little anecdote?  The point is that these people in Maryland are completely crazy when they say that the school gets to own the stuff the kids who attend there create.  Nine year olds in Texas figured out a year ago that that ain’t so.

What’s wrong with you, Maryland?

Just sayin’,

IPTT

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Addendum: Quantifying the ‘Fight Hard’ Strategy

From our friends over at RPX (disclaimer: I consulted with them in an IT capacity a while back), we have this analysis of the Fight or Flight response to a troll:  Quantifying the Fight Hard Strategy.

This is interesting data because it sort of contradicts what I have been a huge proponent of, which is pooling resources to fight these guys.  Except not completely because this analysis assumes, among other things, an individual fight.  So, you know, no pooling necessary in that you have one company fighting one troll, one case at at time.  Indeed, it doesn’t appear that that is a cost-effective strategy when you look at their analysis.  That said, the words “only possible” give me pause in this quote:

We will assume it is only possible to establish a “fight hard” reputation by refusing to settle all or nearly all NPE litigation, so the company will take almost every case all the way through trial.

I actually think, rather, that you can establish a fight hard reputation by doing things prior to the litigation stage that don’t include settling, and that those things in fact do include consorting with other troll victims assertion-ees.  But we’ll get to that later in favor of looking at this statement:

Now compare this result if the same company took a “settle sensibly” strategy that assumes an average settlement of $1 million and $100,000 in legal costs per NPE case.

The problem I see with a “settle sensibly” strategy is that I have kids who were once three year olds.  Ever try to “settle sensibly” with a three yr old?  If you have, then you know that this very often is what happens. (Second disclaimer:  yeah, he’s mine.)  There can’t be any wiggle room, you can’t show any signs of weakness or they will take over your life.  No, you gotta set the law down straight from the minute they stamp their little feet and fold their arms over and hold their breath and possibly even stick their tongue out at you.  They have to know that when they do, their mother will take a picture of it and sell it for a profit to pay for their college education.  Mom, for the win.

Likewise with trolls, no matter how sensibly you try to approach it, when you settle with a troll it sends exactly the wrong message.  Namely, that they’re winning.  Let us not forget that the trolls don’t really want litigation any more than you do.  What they want is your money, lots of it, and they will do what they can to get it.  It’s their business strategy.  If you settle, they win.  If you go to trial and are in the EDTX, they win.  If you go to trial somewhere else and you win, they still win because they’ve dragged you to court and anyone else they’ve tried to shake down will see what it cost you and won’t want any part of that, nothankyouverymuch, so they’ll settle, and probably for a higher amount than they otherwise would have.

One could argue that with the advent of companies like RPX taking patents out of play and companies like Article One Partners who are working like a boss to invalidate patents at the prior art stage, settling will become harder for the trolls because companies might not have to fight because of the former or not go to trial at all because of the latter.

Or, as hinted at above, one could also argue that trolls might use this very “Fight Hard” strategy analysis to coerce even more companies to settle (sensibly or not), and by that of course I mean 1000% in the troll’s favor.  So there’s that possibility.

The best place to go is to the front of the line.  Stop the problem the very instant it starts.  And when is that?  At the moment you check your inbox at work (or the guy with the mail cart comes by, assuming those didn’t go the way of the horse and buggy) and you’ve been sent a Nastygram.  That right there is the tipping point and the time to take action.  I further happen believe the action that should be taken is collective.

I have a solution that will help, it’s part of the “we’ll get to that later” statement even though I know no one likes a tease.  It’s just not go time yet!

Just sayin’,

IPTT

The Shakedown List: President’s Day Edition

Well, one of the troll’s lists, anyway.

I love when trolls list out their latest victims licensees/acquisitions.  It’s almost as if they’re proud of it?  Here’s Acacia Media’s Recent News:

AcaciaNextSteps

When you click the link with the bad date, you get this file, from which I’ve pilfered this quote:

Acacia’s CEO Paul Ryan, commented, “We see the energy industry as a significant new market for the continued expansion of our patent licensing business in 2013.  Acacia plans to continue this expansion and partner with patent owners who have developed new technological advances in all areas of the energy industry.”

Since I speak Troll, allow me to translate:

OIL AND GAS?  WE R HAZ U IN AR SITES.  U SHUD LOOK OWT!

And from lolspeak to english:

Oil and gas?  Hold on to yer ten gallon hat, you’re next.

This is interesting to me for a few reasons.  Firstly, because I spent the better part of my early career writing programs to track information for oilfield services companies.  I love that industry!  Technology is what allows us to get the oil out of the ground for cheaper, and it also allows for us to find more of it.  If you’ve been near or in the oil business for any length of time you know that there is no shortage of the stuff.  There’s more oil in the ground than we have used to date, worldwide.  You just gotta find it and get it to the surface.  Technology helps us do that.  And now the trolls will make it harder for companies to spend their money on those technological innovations because they’ll be spending that money on lawyers to fight off the guys in the black hats.  Which in turn will cause the price of gas to go up as well.  Bonus!  (Not.)

Secondly, I find it interesting/embarrassing because I should have seen it coming.  I thought (and still do) that the pharma community was going to be the hardest hit after the technology sector, and maybe the data will still bear that hunch out.  But this right here revelation from Acacia is going to force me to Google a whole different topic and see who else is on this bandwagon.

And here I thought I had the day off.

Just sayin,

IPTT

Inc. Joins The Patent Troll Party: Once More, With Feeling

Yeah yeah, I know, they joined last December when the article  was first published.  Late to the party much?  Don’t they know all the good hor d’oeuvres get eaten up within the first 1/2 hour?  That’s just common sense, folks.

Nevertheless, the article was brought to the surface again recently via a tweet by that Sneaky Cuban, Mark.  You know, maybe that old quote from Frazier applies to me more than I think:

Are you saying that I’m redundant?  That I repeat myself?  That I say things over and over?

I get it.  That’s me.  I keep saying it over and over again because it seriously rubs me the wrong way, but Mark Cuban funds trolls.  There’s no other way to look at this.  So for him to tweet this article is, how you say, ironic.  Dontcha think?

Anyway, onward and upward with some quotes:

Friedland isn’t sure how word of the settlement leaked to Troll Town, but he says that after he paid the fee, he was inundated with infringement letters from trolls.

I’ll tell you how it was leaked:  the trolls are networked.  They communicate.  Hell, for all we know they hold Illuminati-esque meetings once a month in a bunker in Lucerne, Switzerland with the sole purpose of formulating coordinated attacks.  Here’s a tip to Deep Pockets (that’s you, troll targets):  Your jets fly there too.

In other words, if that’s too subtle for you, why don’t you guys do the same thing?  Coordinate a response.  It looks like some of you did in this case by filing an amicus  brief or two, but seriously?  That all you got?

Open up your wallets, find a bank somewhere (I know!  I know!  Make it Switzerland, since you’re already there!), get an account, and FUND A MASS DEFENSE.  The only thing evil people understand are lawyers, guns, and money.  You have two out of the three, and that ain’t bad.  In fact, it’s enough.  Get some lawyers and some money, and you won’t even need the guns.

This really, truly isn’t rocket science.  We don’t need Leonard and Sheldon to help us here.  (As an aside, I cannot believe it took me so long to give Big Bang Theory a try.  That show is the Soft Kitty’s meow!) We just need a few big companies to pony up some money, let a few others buy in at whatever price point they can, and go to war with these trolls every.single.time. they sue you.  Make them hurt. Bleed them dry.  That’s what they’re trying to do to you, no?  So sleep with the enemy for a night or two for the sole purpose of getting back at your ex.  Wait, what?  For the sole purpose of beating a bigger enemy, that’s what I meant to say.  It may feel slimy, you may not like yourself in the morning, but it has the huge potential to work.

You can talk patent reform in general, software patent reform in particular, and those are excellent conversations to have.  You can go after invalidation via Prior Art searches.  You don’t abandon trying to fix the system; it’s broken and needs to be eliminated an overhaul at the very least.  But in the meantime, you can’t just tweet about it and complain.  How about some action?

Finally:

…Saving High-Tech Innovators From Egregious Legal Disputes (or SHIELD) Act, that would force NPEs to pay defendants’ legal costs if a judge determines that a patent lawsuit didn’t have a reasonable chance of succeeding.

I’m not a lawyer (though I do watch one on TV), but can’t judges assess court costs to the loser without there being a specific law that says they have to?  I mean, not that the SHIELD act is dumb, but is it necessary when, if judges would grow a pair do the right thing, we wouldn’t need it?

As I’ve said before (see Frazier quote…here I go again) this is all about money.  It’s about a business model that the patent system currently allows, if not outright encourages.  The way to beat the bully is to not back down.  How much money are the targets, big and small, spending on payola?  Has it stopped the lawsuits?  No.  If you feed the trolls, they come back.  That’s, like, what we all learned in Kindergarten when our Moms wouldn’t let us feed that poor sad little dog that showed up on the doorstep one night:  If you feed it, it will stay and since you already have a hamster, two goldfish, a chameleon, and three cats we cannot afford to keep this little dog.

Or something like that.

The problem isn’t going away and it isn’t getting better.  Isn’t it time for a new approach?

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Juxtaposed, Redux: Amazon and Ericsson

Last week, I read this article about Amazon not making any money.  Which is kind of odd, considering how many greenbacks I tossed their way this Christmas.  ??  But it lead me to do a little research using one of my favorite iPhone apps, Patent Buddy.  (As an aside, how could you not love an app with the name “buddy” in the title?)   You fill in a name or a patent number and voila!  Instant information.  So I typed in “Amazon”, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?  Well, the following:

Juxtaposed1

Juxtaposed2

Interesting.  So we have a company that is not making any money, but has a fair amount of patents to it’s name.  (What’s also neat about the app is that it tells you who the main inventor is…in Amazon’s case, both the .com and Technologies, Inc., it’s a guy named Bezos, Jeffrey P.)  Gee, I wonder what approach Amazon might consider in the future in order to start getting a return for their investors?  I know, let’s ask these guys!!  (Hint:  start suing over patents.)

And juxtaposed with that, we have this article from Techdirt (Hi, @mmasnick!) about Ericsson.  I haven’t bothered to look up their earnings to see if they are having trouble, but I suspect they are and that’s what’s prompted the sale.  Because of the current climate and the way verdicts are handed down in patent infringement cases, they have now sold some of their portfolio to a known troll.  Proxy fight!  Let the troll take the public hit for suing, while Ericsson collects money on the back end.  Nice.

As is the case 100% of the time with articles on Techdirt, the real fun begins in the comments.   This one in particular takes the cake:

BlogPost_02042013

In case the type is too small on my screen grab, it says:

If you can’t kill the trolls, at least keep one as a pet.

This is exactly the sort of maneuver that made me lose respect for that sneaky Cuban, Mark.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: bullies don’t back down if you join them in the fight.  Trolls are not your friends.  The way to beat these guys is NOT TO SELL OUT.

Ericsson, I’ve got one thing to say to you:  Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

Amazon?  Don’t even think about it.

Just sayin’,

IPTT