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’,


When Is A Survey Not a Survey? When It’s Really A Marketing Campaign By Intellectual Ventures

What long-term positive PR that IV thought they were going to accomplish with this survey is anybody’s guess.  No, really…anyone have a guess?  It’d be just as good as mine because I’ll admit to being Clueless in Katy.  The thing of it is, we’ve already seen your underpants and it’s hard to unsee that.  Two rounds of eye bleach were wholly unhelpful, be forewarned.

I asked @IVInvents (ridicule of that twitter handle will commence shortly) how many of the respondents were investors.  Their response was as follows:

Intellectual Ventures Twitter Exchange with @CandidCanon

Note:  Edited below because I evidently forgot the 3rd grade, where I was supposed to have learned which direction the pointy-bracket thing goes for “greater than” v. “less than”.

To pull out the statistics, most of the CEOs that responded headed up companies with less more than 1,000 employees and under over $100M in revenue.    From their own analysis of their own survey comes this:

In our Market Research on Patent Attitudes study, the majority of the C-suite executives we surveyed believe patents are good for innovation; they believe patent rights should be respected; they believe people should pay a license fee to use technology that is patented. Yet, they don’t fully recognize how patents apply to them.

They don’t fully recognize how patents apply to them, huh?  Let me guess…you’re going to show them, right?

These executives rank product development and competitive edge highly in their 2013 business priorities, but the C-suite does not have the information or expertise to leverage patents within their business strategy.

Right.  And Intellectual Ventures does.  So this was not so much a survey as it was a marketing campaign, am I right?  Go out and ask leading questions to get the answers that you want so that you can provide {Shazaam!} just the information and solution they didn’t know they needed.

Well played.

Less than half the executives we surveyed had heard of patent licensing companies (which were described in the blind survey as “a company that purchases patents and licenses them to companies who have existing products in the market”).

You’re kidding, right?  The reason less than half of them had heard of a patent licensing company is because you sugar-coated it with your definition:  “…a company that purchases patents and licenses them to companies who have existing products in the market”.  Your article-writer is being very inefficient because you could have said that in 15 fewer words by typing “patent troll” or “Intellectual Ventures” because that’s who and what you’re describing.

My very favorite thing about the “survey” is the Insights that run across the bottom of the slides, the first two of which had me howling with laughter:

Insight:  Patents are not stifling American innovation.

Insight:  The U.S. patent system is not broken.

Oooh, boy.  Where’s Emoji for WordPress when you need it?  I could use about a hundred of these 😆 right now!

And as for the Twitter handle @IVInvents, I have a question for you:   What does IV invent?

Survey says?  New ways to polish a turd.

Just sayin’,


Neiman Marcus Pulls a Rackspace And Attempts to Pwn IP Nav

How can you not love an industry that pulls out such vocabulary as “apophasis” and “pellucid”?  I am not ashamed to admit that I had to look that first one up.  Turns out?  It’s a real word.  Here’s the definition:

Apophasis:  The raising of an issue by claiming not to mention it (as in“we won’t discuss his past crimes”)

I think that’s an insult to IP Nav (as seen below), but I’m not sure.  If it’s not, what I’m about to write most certainly is.

It seems that Neiman Marcus was sent a letter by IP Nav.  Evidently, the subject of the letter was “proposal to negotiate patent license”, which, when run through my PTT™ (Patent Troll Translator) means “We are going to sue the #$%* out of you if you don’t pay up.”

It’s true.  My PTT is never ever wrong.

The letter goes on to say:

“We would very much welcome the opportunity to enter into constructive discussions with your company to determine whether we can agree to a mutually acceptable patent license agreement or that you are not using our client’s patents,” the letter continues. “We are focused on addressing these issues without the need for costly and protracted litigation.”

To which PTT translates:

“We would very much like you to bend over so we can shove our patent where the sun don’t shine, which is to say have you sign a singularly acceptable patent license agreement.  If you think you’re not using our client’s patent, well you’re wrong.  You are.  So, let’s just get your ass-whooping over with, shall we?  Send the check to Eric Spangenberg, 2515 McKinney Ave, Suite 1000 Dallas, TX 75201”

But oh noes!  Neiman Marcus, having not been born yesterday and also able to use Teh Interwebs to read the news, knows all about IP Nav’s going after Rackspace and how Rackspace didn’t just roll over and play dead.  So what does NM do?  THE SAME DAMN THING RACKSPACE DID.  OK, close.  They said “No, Thank You” to your little threat there, buddy, and filed for declaratory judgment.

Here’s what kills me:

 The letter, the company notes, doesn’t even hint at what patents it is allegedly infringing upon other than to say they have something to do with “automation.”

Seriously, IP Nav?  That’s, like, the height of arrogance.  Just because you’re you, you assume that people will not even question you, they’ll just pay up.  This ain’t the mafia, pal, and you’re not Don Corleone.  (Is he a mobster?  Please tell me he is…I don’t watch mob movies because blood and guts and death do not entertain me the way Hugh Grant and Harrison Ford do.)

If the pen is mightier than the sword, you got run through on this approach back in 2011 by Judge Ed Kinkeade:

[IP Nav’s letter is] an unmistakable and intentional warning shot across the bow. The actual message is pellucid to any patent litigator, so that IP Nav’s use of apophasis is disingenuous and unavailing. Remember Mark Antony’s funeral oration in Julius Caesar? That’s how an experienced business executive or lawyer would view IP Nav’s assertions that ‘we are focused on addressing these issues without the need for costly and protracted litigation’ and ‘our client’s preferred approach is to conclude licensing discussions without resorting to litigation. We hope you share this objective.’ The implied ‘or else!’ oozes from this letter like lye from lutefisk. To paraphrase an observation attributed to Anton Chekhov, you don’t hang a gun over the mantle in Act I unless someone is going to fire it in Act III.”

(Kudos to Eric Nicholson at the Dallas Observer for digging up that little slice of heaven.) If ever in the history of ever there was a paragraph that pwned IP Nav, this is it.  And yet they came back for more?

What’s that quote about the definition of an idiot?  Oh, I remember:  One who does the same thing over and over again expecting the same result.

IP Nav, you may or may not be an idiot.

Just sayin’,