Google? Look Out For The Word Boomerang

Google, you slay me.

Gene Quinn at IP Watchdog posted about a symposium wherein a Google rep claimed that they do not sell patents to patents trolls.  Referring to his original article, Gene reminds us:

Thus, the premise of my article about whether patent litigation is really a problem if big technology companies are selling to patent trolls holds.

Yes, patent litigation is a really big problem.  Just because big technology is part of the problem doesn’t mean that it isn’t there and it certainly doesn’t mean they started it.  It’s not really, therefore, a question of “if” patent litigation is a big problem.  But I’m with you on the hypocrisy issue and you know that:  You cannot complain that the trolls are coming after you if you’re selling them the baseball bats used to beat you.  It’s really that simple, Mark.

Suzanne Michel’s(she was the speaker for Google at the symposium)  point was that  if companies are buying up patents in droves in order to have a defense against the Dark Arts (which really they’re doing that as a defense against their own kind because as we know, having a stable of patents does not protect you from trolls because you can’t counter-sue them because they don’t make anything that you might  be infringing on which is largely what the troll problem is all about and yes this sentence is finally over)  then Google has to too and what happens over time is that …

 you can’t maintain [your mountain of patents], because the maintenance fees are too high, so you sell them off to trolls,

In true “it depends on what the definition of the word ‘is’ is” fashion, a disagreement arose over the use of the phrase “you sell them off to trolls”.  Is that “you” meaning everyone but Google, or “you” as in “one in the tech industry being sued by patent trolls”?

Either way, you have to be very careful with statements like that because if you’ve ever been a parent or had a dog, you have learned that you cannot ever say never.  I said I would never allow a dog to sleep on my bed, but actually that’s a poor example because I don’t let my dog sleep on my bed.  He lets me sleep on his.


Texas Blue Lacy dog, at your service.
His ancestors are rolling in their graves.

I also said my kids would never leave the house in mismatched clothes and then I had Michael, my artsy kid who created the ComicCon and dude cannot match to save his life and ain’t nobody got time for that when you’re late for a Frosty at Wendy’s school.

What Google should say is “We never intend to sell to a patent troll.  We may at times thin out our portfolio to save maintenance fees or build cash to purchase other portfolios, but to the extent that it is within our control, we will not knowingly participate in the patent troll litigation problem by letting our patents fall into enemy hands.”

Google probably really does want to avoid selling to patent trolls.  But the reality is, because of the shell game the trolls often play you may not even know who you’ve sold to, and they’ll just resell or reassign it anyway so you can’t say “We don’t/won’t sell to trolls.”   Those words will come back and bonk you on the brain sure as the sun shines.  Kind of like a word boomerang.

Just sayin’,



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