(Here I go again, repeating myself myself…)
I find the most interesting piece of the patent troll puzzle to be the players it brings out. Taking a stroll down memory lane, you find this seriously outstanding dude. If ever there was a time to bring out that infamous Jay-Leno-to-Hugh-Grant line, it’s now: “What the hell were you thinking??”
Probably some of these details are wrong because
I am loathe to look them all up on a Wednesday morning I don’t have a fact checker, but basically Scott Harris held some patents. While working as an attorney for Fish & Richarson, he licensed out these patents to trolls who would then assert them against clients of his own firm. You need to be careful walking around after following that circular logic…dizziness leads to falls.
Somehow, I suspect he didn’t get a bonus for being a rainmaker.
Patent law appears to bring out the ugly in everyone. And as I’ve mentioned before, it matters who the players are. My new favorite person in this arena is one Mr. Bowman, of Monsanto v. Bowman fame. Which, interestingly, seems to be styled in reverse half the time. I don’t get it. ??
What you have here is a case about seeds. Soybean seeds. You know that RoundUp stuff you buy at Home Depot to spray on the weeds in the cracks on your driveway? Well, Monsanto bred a resistance to it in their soybean seeds so that you can spray for the little buggers but not kill the soybean plant. And they have patented the…seeds? The process of making them RoundUp resistant? I’m not sure which, but I’m sure it doesn’t matter because the point is that they sued, among others, a sweet farmer who bought second-generation seeds from a grain seller and has quickly found himself accused of patent infringement. Take a look:
Who are we kidding here? Look how adorable that man is, and he even has his dog with him. A Grandpa and a dog, you’re going to sue that? You are if you’re Monsanto. You couldn’t get much drier subject matter if you combed the Sahara desert, yet this story is now everywhere. I myself even said before that no one was hyping it because it’s about seeds and didn’t have a cool name associated with it.
Enter 70+ year old Bowman and you’ve got yourself a story. Why? The players involved. It’s easy to care about who Monsanto sues when it’s a sweet farmer who defended himself by researching the law at a library because he doesn’t even have a computer. Tell me that’s not good press! And then he busts out the quotes like this and the story all but writes itself:
“I was prepared to let them run over me,” Mr. Bowman said, “but I wasn’t getting out of the road.”
Goliath, meet David.
So once again we have a situation where the people are what make it interesting. What if Ray Niro was a sweet, kind, bespectacled man who had asked kindly could his name please not be used in vain when discussing non-practicing entities whom he happens to represent? A certain blog still exists then, now doesn’t it? Niro may or may not be bespectacled but he most certainly is not known for his kind demeanor so the fists started to fly and ZOINKS! Houston, we have a problem.
What would be super terrific would be to track not only patent troll behavior at the company level, but to start naming names. Build in a little personality profile of some of the biggest players working for the biggest trolls and see if you can’t use that information to make better informed decisions on how to handle nastygrams. Also, take a look at the law firms on both sides of the aisle and profile the attorneys.
There’s personality gold in them thar hills, if only you track it and mine for it.