Lying, Cheating, And Other Sleazebaggery: From Caveat Emptor To Caveat Venditor

Reading this post over at Patent Progress and juxtaposing it with the first part of Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human, I was struck by something.  No, it wasn’t a bolt of lightening, much to some people’s dismay.  It was the thought that you can sometimes tell how worried someone is about something by how much they deny they’re worried about it.  The old “hide in plain sight” modus operandi.  That’s what it seems like is going on with all the troll apologetics we have going on since the President decided to completely disregard my schedule and talk about the patent trolling problem and how the government plans to solve it.

I think the real problem is this:  now that there’s Teh Interwebs and Twitter, information about trollish behavior is much easier to find and dissemble than it was back in the early 2000’s when the dust docket dried up companies began to really form their business strategy around patent litigation.  We’ve moved, as Mr. Pink says, from an era of buyer beware to seller beware.

There’s clearly a case of one (or 5 or 10) bad apple(s) spoils the bunch going on, I get it.  There are legitimate NPE’s out there who are working with true inventors who have a fantastic idea but no money to build or sell a product using it, or no desire to do either.  They need an intermediary and that’s OK because I said it was OK right here and we all know that if you read it on the internet it has to be true.  But what they don’t need is a patent troll using them, buying their patent and then using it as a stick to beat industry with.  The seller really does need to be more aware.

Imagine a world a world not of information asymmetry, but of something closer to information parity, where buyers and sellers have roughly equal access to information.  What would happen then?

This is the question asked in the book, and it’s a good one.  When people are made aware of what the patent trolls are doing, they tend not to like it.  The way to combat that opinion, and the trolls should listen up here, is with information.  If you’re truly in existence to help the little guy and bring inventors their due recompense for all that inventing that they’re doing, SPILL THE BEANS.  I asked IP Nav to do that and ended up holding a bag of my own marbles when Barry* up and took his on home with him after playing a few rounds.  NPR asked Intellectual Ventures to do that and they couldn’t wouldn’t do it either.  So what’s that telling you?

This is why the idea of a place to track troll activity is a good one.  There’s lots of information to track, but one of the first things is demand letter information.  Let’s build a picture of what these guys look like before they show themselves to the public via an actual lawsuit.  Yeah, I know.  They hide behind shell companies.  Well, guess what?  I happen to know a few folks with mad data mining skillz who can prove up the data behind the scenes.  Cross reference locations, patents asserted, law firms used to send the shakedown letter, etc. and use a little heat mapping and investigative skills to triangulate who these people are and who they’re going after and how to best mitigate against the threat.  It will take time, and it will take patent demand letter data.


What I want to do is build a little field of dreams here, a community of people who have been hit with a patent demand letter and need help fighting it off and need a place to go to enter information and research.  People who want to know who else their particular troll is going after. People who can then get together and promote a common defense against the Dark Arts!  What I want is for people to talk about a tool, that patent tool, that helps them in this war against the twisting of the American dream into something sinister like the privateering of patents.  Yes, what I really want is to end the practice of patent trolling altogether by using good old ingenuity and new business models and the private sector.  We the People, people!  {It’s OK if you want to stand up and sing God Bless America and wave the flag at this point.  No one will poke fun at you and it most certainly probably won’t be me.}

To sell, Mr. Pink would have us believe, is human.  What am I selling?  A place enter patent demand letter data only it’s not really selling even because it’s free to use.  What you have to ask yourself, my dear patent trolls, is what are you selling?  I think you’re selling yourself a bill of goods, which is the idea that you’re “helping the little guy” when the reality is very different.  You’re lying, cheating, and sleezebaggery-ing.

Just sayin’,


*Just a note to say that I “internet know” Barry and like him and harbor no ill will towards him at all.  In fact, just the opposite.  Because though we disagree vehemently on the morality of patent trolling, he at least does not hide his views.  Just keepin’ it real, folks.


2 thoughts on “Lying, Cheating, And Other Sleazebaggery: From Caveat Emptor To Caveat Venditor

  1. Pingback: Microsoft is Suing Android/Google/Motorola Again, This Time Through Intellectual Ventures (Updated) | Techrights

  2. Pingback: You Can’t Charge More For A License Than You Paid For The Patent. Wait, what? | IP Troll Tracker

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