As if I didn’t have enough to do this week, it being the last day of school and all, the President has to go all freak nasty on patent trolls and talk about a demand letter registry. Does he care at all that my oldest is going to walk to the pizza parlor (I totally just said “pizza parlor” in the year 2013) after school, alone, for the first time, to meet his “friend-that’s-a-girl-but-not-his-girlfriend” and that it makes me feel afraid and proud and sad at the same time? Does he care that I still have end of year teacher gifts to buy because I’m exactly like this lady and couldn’t be bothered to do it ahead of time? Or that I have a major system upgrade for a client due by Friday and it includes an inventory module, something I haven’t coded for in probably eight years?
Evidently, he does not.
I now feel obliged to launch this slightly sooner than I had planned, and with that lead in, you should expect nothing less than something completely spectacular. What you will receive, however, is a link to a National Demand Letter Registry, a little something I like to call That Patent Tool.
As the front page explains, my goal with this site is to do three things:
- Alert the business world of Patent Assertion Entity activity, prior to litigation, with an eye towards predicting future targets.
- Expose the process that assertion entities use by posting their demands.
- Build a community surrounding these threats and create the potential for synergistic response.
It’s that last item that I’m the most excited about, because if we can get the flow of information moving, people will be able to go to a single destination to find out who’s going after who, and connect with others who’re similarly situated. They can talk response strategies, potentially share counsel…there are any number of ways to join forces with other victims and form a collective action to thwart the efforts of the patent trolls.
This is an idea that has been discussed before, most recently by Professor Colleen Chien in an exchange on Twitter with Dennis Crouch. Lenny Kravets has also talked about it, and I believe others have mentioned it as well. And then there’s the guy in the White House, who may or may not have called for it as recently as yesterday. (Hint: he did.)
I’m all for talk, obviously, but at some point someone’s got to throw the net out there and see what they can catch. I’m hoping to catch me a whole heaping lot of trolls, y’all! The site is completely free to use…there’s no fee to sign up and enter your data, and no fee to search the database.
If you’ve ever been sent a demand letter, GO FORTH AND ENTER IT IN. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the information, or if you are unable or unwilling to disclose all the parties. Put in as much as you’re willing and able to disclose.
This is as much a moral fight for me as it is anything else; if you read through the archives, you’ll see that theme repeated time and time again. It’s personal! In fact, I’ll be attending the Developer Patent Summit in Austin on Thursday night, put on by the Application Developer’s Alliance, and am sorely tempted to show up like this guy:
If you see a lady walking around spouting off about That Patent Tool, face painted in blue and white, who occasionally screams out “FREEDOM!!”, then come up and shake my hand. There’s a good chance it’ll be me.