I hate to think of poor Sasquatch, tall and hairy as he is, spending his life all alone. Everybody needs somebody sometimes, didn’t one of the old crooners sing about that back in the day? Not my day, but in really old people days?
Well, old buddy, you’ve finally found your match, as it seems that the far less rare beast named Patent Troll has found his way to your neck of the woods. Tim Wilson posted this link about it…here’s some more info:
Homebuilders in Washington say they are being inundated with letters claiming patent infringement for the simple process of using fans and dehumidifiers to dry out a home after it has been framed.
OK first of all, if you would build homes someplace where it didn’t rain all the time, you might not be in this predicament to begin with. (I’ll pause while everyone who loves Seattle gets out their poisoned pen to write me a nasty letter.)
Nevertheless, there you are and you’re being targeting like so many before you by
…one large patent troll alone [who] has recently sent letters demanding payment to more than 16,000 businesses in the U.S. and 313 in Washington.
While there isn’t one litmus test to determine if someone is a troll even though Paul Morinville thinks I have one, this is a key element of trollish behavior: lots of letters blanketing lots of businesses in lots of places. That makes you a patent troll.
It’s not just the homemakers getting hit…
Mark Allen from the Washington State Association of Broadcasters said that in the 48 hours before his testimony [before the State legislature], more than a dozen small radio stations had received angry letters. Some had taken angry, threatening phone calls.
Emphasis mine. This is where personality comes in. Maybe it’s just a Southern thing, but don’t people understand that you get more flies with honey? Oh, the irony.
I’d like to see the history on both the “drying out a home after framing” and “hard drive storage of music” patents. What are the patent numbers? When were they issued, which goes back to my question on Twitter about the average age of a troll’s patents. Lex Machina, where is my email with that data? Kidding, I haven’t officially asked you for it BUT I AM ASKING NOW. We can visualize that and fill in another piece of the puzzle.
Y’all know I’m not a fan of the government solving this problem. I’ll tell you what I want to do about it after this last quote, because it succinctly isolates the issue with trolls:
“It’s that kind of legal threat that comes at small business that leaves them handcuffed, frustrated with what could be a legal exposure and what they’re going to do to try and run their business,” said Bill Stauffacher, a lobbyist for the Pacific Printing Industries Association during a House hearing on a bill aimed at curbing trolls.
Handcuffed is a good word. Businesses are beholden to these kids of threats because they don’t realize that a letter is not a legally binding “thing”, for lack of a better term. You are obligated to do exactly nothing if you receive a demand letter! If we could put these letters someplace, like That Patent Tool, then instead of being worried it would turn into the inevitable lawsuit because Mr. Whiney-baby Troll didn’t get the reaction he was looking for, we could build a consortium of other recipients and come up with a collective defense!
If you have kids, then you’ve probably heard of the book What If Everybody Did That? The basic premise is to teach kids that, look, if one of you leaves a piece of trash on the playground it’s not earth-shattering. But if everybody did, you’d be playing in a landfill and that’s gross and unhygienic, not to mention it’s a crime to Mess With Texas. We don’t do litter here, y’all. Anyway, why not apply that same principle to demand letters? If everyone who received one tracked it somewhere where everyone else could find it, it would open up the lines of communication and promote a common defense.
This sounds familiar so I’m sure I’ve said this before even if I do a horrible job of tagging my posts and can’t self-reference like I should. If every single person who got a threatening letter refused to answer it, they’d have to up their game. They’d have to make the decision to actually sue, rather than just threaten to. Divide and conquer, folks. You can’t fight a battle on a million fronts. I’m sure I can come up with another platitude here but you see the point. The way to stop these guys can be summed up in two words: Exposure and Collaboration. Exposure to the patent, the demands, and the companies making them. Collaboration among recipients in an effort to either fund a common defense if a lawsuit is eventually filed, or to prevent that in the first place by putting strategies in place on the back end. Use exposure and collaboration to target the trolls.
I suspect those tracking Sasquatch have had their share of exposure when people pull the monkey suit off the guy in the forest that they snapped a fuzzy photo of, claiming it was the mythical beast. Unlike Sasquatch, patent trolls are real.
Tracking demand letters is not the only defense, I get that. But if those who have been hit by trolls would expose the details then maybe, just maybe, we could build out own Troll Field Researchers Organization, graph the information, hunt them all down, and rid the business landscape of this plague.