Since President Obama, who still has no regard for my schedule, decided to ramp up the rampage against patent trolls which forced me to put out That Patent Tool a smidge earlier than I’d planned to, there’s been a lot of activity on the site and I thought it high time we sit and visit about it, “visit” being a Southern way to say “We need to talk about our relationship.” (You can send my prize for the longest opening sentence ever to: Erich Spangenberg, 2515 McKinney Ave, Suite 1000, Dallas, TX 75201…I hear he needs the money.)
It’s fascinating what you can determine based on a set of data surrounding a patent troll. Let’s take the MPHJ group, also known as the Scanner Dudes. These are the folks Joe Mullin over at Ars wrote about in April, and a little over 30 of their letters have been entered into the system. Here’s what we know:
- There are at least three different demand amounts being requested
- Not all demand letters from these guys even contain a requested amount
- January and February were busy months for letter-sending
- Of their crazy named subsidiaries/shell companies, the ones that begin with “F” seem to be the most prolific
Now, what can we learn from this? Here are my thoughts:
- Demand amounts depend on the recipient of the letter. Most trolls are smart enough not to ask Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, purveyors of fine goods at Uncle John’s Corner Store in Deluth, MN for a gigantic fee because guess what? Mom and Pop stores aren’t as profitable as major corporations. But they can ask for something and get it because John is not fond of lawyers and just wants the problem to go away.
- Timing is everything…what makes one month more desirable than another? Is it tax-related somehow? Related to shopping seasons? Like, you send more demand letters in Jan/Feb to people who bought scanners for Christmas, because nothing says “I love you” like “Honey, will you scan and email this for me?”
- There’s something going on alphabetically with these MPHJ guys. It would be fascinating to take all the six-letter combinations they come up with and feed them into IBM’s Watson as a Service and see what they spell. My guess is something like “Patent Infringers Are The Devil” or “We Own You, Beotchez”.
All of which is the point behind gathering the data to begin with. When you see it in black and white, certain patterns emerge. Any one who’s been hit by these guys can take a look at what’s been sent before and use that to fight back with. That’s collaboration, folks. That’s taking what we know and building a community around it to solve the problem ourselves.
The more data we get, the more patterns will emerge and the more we can use those patterns to form a proper line of defense against
the Dark Arts patent trolls. That Patent Tool was meant to be just what the name implies: A tool for tracking trolls and taking them down.
As more and more letters come in, the tool becomes more and more useful, so if you’ve got ’em share ’em!