If Peter Piper Picked A Peck of Pickled Peppers…

…Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Is anyone else unable to recite that nursery rhyme without being taken back to their high school days when the Run DMC version was king?  All I can ever remember to say when asked if Peter Piper Picked Peppers is “…and Run rocked rhyme.  Humpty Dumpty fell down, that’s his hard time…”  Ah, the memories associated with that song…the drumbeat of the band as the football players ran out on the field, the cheerleaders jumping all over the place, jockeying for seats in the stands and accidentally (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) knocking over my best friend so I could sit next to that really cute Freshman…

Wait, what just happened there?

Anyway, here’s the thing.  If you want to distinguish between “white hat” and “black hat” NPE’s, as Barry Leff with IP Nav has, then you will need to be able to prove that your hat is, in fact, not black.  The way you do that is to show the peck of pickled peppers that Peter picked. Or, alternatively, show us what products you’ve helped your clients bring to market that they wouldn’t have been able to do without you.  And your white hat.


From the article, Mr. Leff says:

PAEs such as IPNav play an essential role in providing inventors a mechanism to receive compensation for their inventions which could otherwise be misappropriated by large companies with impunity.

(Emphasis mine.)  Their inventions, or their patents?  I don’t want to go all NPR v. Intellectual Ventures on you, but show me the money.  What inventions have you helped “the little guy” bring to the market?  That’s what I think of when I think of someone who wears a white hat.  He’s there to help you.  Providing money to patent an idea is helpful, sure, but don’t act like it’s the end all.  You get your cut and the way you do it is to go after people for infringing, not just by helping an inventor navigate (tee hee) the patent process and secure his intellectual property rights.

Riddle me this:  What percentage of your monetization money is from patent licensing vs. patent assertion?  That would be a terrific way of letting the world know how many pecks were picked, no?  I think the former can be construed as “white hat”, but the ol’ lid there turns a few shades darker when you start sending out assertion letters as a way of bringing home the bacon.

And then there’s this gem:

We are NOT a “non-practicing entity” (NPE) in that we do not take title to patents, although in some cases we will assist clients in selling their patents to an NPE.

I didn’t know that there was a rule with NPEs that they are required to be the actual title-holders of the patents they were asserting.  Did I miss that?  It must have been in Appendix B of the NPE Manual.  No one ever reads Appendix B, people, you should know that.  But can’t you hire a patent assertion company to file lawsuits on your behalf?  I’m no lawyer, so maybe I’m wrong on that.  But what difference does it make anyway given the second half of that sentence?  “I didn’t take the cookies from the cookie jar, Mom!  I just ate the ones that Michael stole.”  Doesn’t work for kids, doesn’t work for adults trying to pretend their hat is white when it’s really black.

In the American system, consumers determine which businesses are worthwhile – by voting with their dollars.

That’s all well and good because I guess under this guise the “consumer” is the guy with the idea that you’re exploiting helping to get patented, is that it?  Um, okay.


Here’s where Mr. Leff really jumps the shark:

Cheng seems to be suffering from a too-common view that committing intellectual property piracy is somehow a “right” and that pirates should be protected against lawsuits by IP owners. The misconception is that as an intangible, intellectual property cannot be “stolen” because the owner of the IP suffers no “actual harm” from the theft. That’s simply not true. Ask the software, music, or movie industries how much they have suffered “actual harm” because people stole their IP.

Or ask Mike Masnick at Techdirt.  He’ll be more than happy to show you how much non-harm those industries are actually suffering.  And that’s copyright anyway, not patents.  There’s only one such beast (so far) as a Copyright Troll – Big shout-out to Righthaven! – so that’s a total red herring.  Commendable attempt to shift the argument, but us troll trackers are quicker on the draw than that.

Here he invokes the morality clause:

Patent owners are under no obligation, moral or legal, to manufacture whatever product or idea is covered by their patent.

You know, I’m not the morality police (unless you’re my child and then I totally am) but this kind of statement really galls me.  Patent owners may well be under no obligation to create a product or add value to society, you’re right.  But does that mean that they have the right to go around using their patent as a bully pulpit, a big giant bat with the words “TAKE A LICENSE OR WE’LL SUE YOU” burned into it?  If that’s your idea of morality, count me out.

And now, taking us back to our childhood once again, we have this lovely logic:

“White hat” SEO businesses work with their clients to do what the search providers want: they add quality content, make content search-friendly, find quality websites that should link to them, etc.

“Black hat” SEO businesses try and scam the system. Google wants links? They hire cheap labor in India or the Philippines to spam comments on blogs with links. Google likes websites that have more fresh content? They hire armies of people, again in cheap labor locations, to crank out “content” that no one in his right mind would want to read, often stuffed with so many keywords as to be unreadable.

Did a grown adult just use the “But they did it too!” excuse?  You’re now showing your true color.

Black Hat

Just sayin’,



One thought on “If Peter Piper Picked A Peck of Pickled Peppers…

  1. Interesting post. A few points for clarification:

    1) By definition NPEs are patent owners. PAEs — Patent Assertion Entities — on the other hand may or may not be patent owners. The terms are not identical. IPNav is a PAE, but we are NOT an NPE.

    2) My point with the black hat/white hat analogy was most definitely NOT “but they did it too.” My point was that black hat SEO is a scam, and deserves to be taken down. “Black hat” patent enforcement is likewise a scam that deserves to be taken down.

    3) Yes, patent owners are entitled to wave their patent around and threaten to sue people if they don’t want to take a license. People who us a patent without paying for it are thieves. You are not allowed to steal stuff. The patent is a right to exclude — the only thing you can do with it is stop other people from making the patented thing without your permission. That’s the only permission it grants you — the right to sue other people.

    4) The percentage of revenue from licensing versus litigation would not prove anything. “Black hat” patent trolls get almost all of their money from licensing, because they often set the fee low enough that it’s nuisance value compared with litigation.

    There are many companies out there that take a “we’ll pay for it when they come after us” attitude toward infringing patents. I know. I used to work for a company like that, and it’s one reason I left the company. I disagreed with that approach.

    What shows that IPNav is “white hat” and not “black hat” is that we are perfectly happy with a true “loser pays” system — we only enforce strong patents where there is real infringement. The scam artists would never go for such a proposal, because their model is based on never going to court.

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