I Know Who The Pixelated-Faced Troll Victim Is (Probably)

Do you get into debates on LinkedIn?  I kinda do, but then again I tend to get into debates everywhere I go.  You should see me at the grocery store, what with the whole “paper or plastic” nonsense.  Seriously?  JUST.GIVE.ME.A.BAG.

Anyway, this morning my frienemy Paul Morinville posted a link to a story about a man who’s company was shut down by a patent troll, despite not believing that patent trolls exist.  He did a cursory search and found that the individual in the article didn’t even own a patent (!) and therefore could not have been sued for it (!!) which means he is obviously a liar and his pants are certainly aflame (!!!). Not being one to take anyone’s Paul’s word for anything it, I did a little searching of my own and would you believe it?  I came up with a completely different result.

I’ll pause while you recover from that revelation.

The article that was posted was this one, about a man named David Bloom.  He co-founded a technology start up called Ordrx (probably pronounced “Order X”, and not “OR-drix”, like I originally said it in my head) and the software centered around the restaurant business and the electronic ordering process.  Or something like that.

It’s not relevant anymore because he’s out of business on account of patent trolls. What was so interesting is that those who think patent trolls aren’t a problem immediately dismissed this man’s case because he didn’t have one.  There was no lawsuit filed, and that meant “Hey, dude, what’re you barking about?  Like, you didn’t even get sued, maaaan!  Why don’t you grow up and quit whining already?”

banner big lebowski copy

Update, 5:57 pm CDT:  Of course there was a lawsuit, I missed that when I read the article the first time.  While some still wish to believe there weren’t, it is clear that OrdrX (dba Ordr In) was sued in the S. District of California, by the patent-holder’s own admission in a press release because why not brag about being a troll?  So while I was wrong to say that David Bloom didn’t say he was sued, Paul, et al were wrong to say that he wasn’t sued.  But for different reasons.  I think?  Anyway, he was sued just like he said he was.

Further, Paul and his minions were all “I can’t even find a patent!”  Really?  Because I did, and it took all of three searches.  I found this link on the Application Developer’s Alliance which led me to this link on something called trollfighters.com (note to self: that would have been a good domain to go ahead and buy) where it appears that Mr. Brown is, in fact, the pixel-headed CEO who was so worried about other companies trying to troll him that he refused to even show his face.

Not only couldn’t they find the patent that I found, they claimed the whole thing was a lie because he said he got sued (he never said that he totally said that) and he didn’t get actually sued (again, he never said that OK fine, he did say he was hit with a “frivolous lawsuit”) because if he got sued then where’s the lawsuit????

What actually happened, for those of us who read the article, was that he was forced out of business on account of the threat of a suit from a patent troll. Patent litigation defense costs a lot of money.  How much will always be in dispute, but it doesn’t matter because when you’re starting your own company, anything not related to your business that costs you more than $50 is “a lot”.  Patent infringement litigation defense usually costs more than $50.  I feel very safe in asserting that fact.

The dissenters also claimed that if a (non-existent) patent troll was coming after them and they were Google-backed, why wouldn’t Teh Googs just swoop in and lay waste to the (non-existent) troll?  Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.  First of all, I don’t think they were Google-backed so much as they participated in a start-up contest that was sponsored by Google.  Not quite the same thing, even in the made-up land where Paul lives and the trolls don’t exist.

Second of all, Google would rather shutter the venture than try and fend off the lawsuit, unless the Ordrx software were already pulling in mountains of money.  It’s the only sensible thing to do unless you’re a badass like Lee Cheng or Drew Curtis or Todd Moore and make the call to fight the good fight every time someone brings it to you. What kills me is the speed with which the “trolls don’t exist” camp went after David Bloom without even a quick search.  All they did was look for a patent in his name and a lawsuit, both of which couldn’t be found.

What’s so funny is, finding out the details didn’t even take me that long, I did it while on hold waiting for an online class to start because multitasking is my specialty. I’m glad I did though, because it solved an age-old mystery for me, which is “who was that pixelated man?”

DavidBloom_PixelGuy_new

Tell me I’m right, David.

JustSayin_small_New

IPTT

Side note:  In the Twitter exchange that followed the LinkedIn debate, it was mentioned that I may be a paid shill for lobbying groups.  If nothing else is clear, let it this be: I write this blog for me and for those who are taken advantage of by the black hat, bad-guy, patent-wielding thugs who go after people for infringement just because they can.  I do not take anything from anyone for it.  Not a single penny, from a single person.  #independent

{Big Lebowski image found here. Pixelated image found here. David Bloom image found here.}

SAWS? What SAWS? Nothing To See Here (Anymore), Folks…

In such a time as this, it helps to have a translator so that We The People can understand what just happened here.  Thankfully, IPTT is on the job with the PTT™ (Patent Troll Translator), which can be used not only to translate patent troll-speak, but USPTO-speak as well.

And here we go…

“Upon careful consideration, the USPTO has concluded that the SAWS program has only been marginally utilized and provides minimal benefit,” the post, which was published Monday night, reads.

Translation?

“By ‘marginally utilized’ we mean ‘arbitrarily utilized, depending on who offered to pay us the most’, and by ‘provides minimal benefit’, we mean ‘Oh, hell, you caught us!’

Further, upon being asked by Dennis Crouch (and probably others that it’s too early in the morning for me to go dig up) to provide statistical data surrounding our Sensitive Application Warning System, we decided that we’d better kill it before FOIA makes us disclose even more information, that will make us look stupid at best and devious at worst.”

Here’s the beef:  the USPTO had a system that allowed the examiners to flag certain applications for extended review and they didn’t have to tell anyone they did it.  Eeps.  Here’s how the process is supposed to work:

Usually, when you submit a patent application, it requires the approval of one or two examiners who work with the office. Those applications can take anywhere from 22 to 29 months to be issued, depending on fees you pay to speed up the process or the lawyers you have representing you.

Emphasis mine.  Oh good grief.  Ms. Lee?  This is something you need to fix.  You shouldn’t be able to pay your way to the head of the line, and you need to have examiners who are lawyers so that they are on a level playing field with the people submitting the applications for the inventors.  I said all this once before after interviewing a former examiner.

“The patent office has a tremendous latitude in making these illegal practices, whether it’s by SAWS or other processes,” Hyatt told Yahoo Tech in January.

That’s not the 1/2 of it, if anything my interviewee has to say about it is true.  I’m really hoping that Michelle Lee is able to make some changes in the examination process for two reasons:

  1. It will improve the quality of patents.
  2. It will take that bat out of the hands of inventors who want to gripe that the process is the problem.

Because as for #2 right now, they’re right.

<digression>

Beyond the fact that the program wasn’t publicized and the people stuck in it may or may not have known (did they, can anyone confirm?), there’s this bit that sticks in my craw worse than line jumpers:

So, say you’re an inventor who has founded a startup. You’re waiting for your patent to be issued, so you can start your company. In fact, some of your funding may depend solely on your ability to secure the rights to that innovation. If you were placed in the SAWS program, you could be potentially dragged along for years. Meanwhile, you might lose funding or face additional competition.

WHY does funding depend on a patent being issued?  I can’t get over that.  If a patent is all you have, you need to rethink your pitch deck.  Besides which, to the point of that last sentence, competition is good!  We all get better by playing against someone who’s better than us, right Gene Quinn? I dunno, like I said about the Fuzzibunz lady: are you an entrepreneur or a patent-preneur?

</digression>

In the end, there’s two ways to look at the death of SAWS, the first being this quote by Kate Gaudry:

“This is a good indication that they’re willing to objectively step back and look at their programs and efforts, and listen to their stakeholders,” Kate Gaudry, an associate at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, told Yahoo Tech. “And change what needs to be changed.”

Um, okay.  Let’s see if Thomas Franklin, also of Kilpatrick Townsend has a better take:

“I’m not sure this is a win for transparency to say: you found this program so we’re shutting it down,” he told Yahoo Tech.

Yeah, the second one.

JustSayin_small_New

IPTT

 

 

An Open Letter To Garth Brooks, Of Whom I Am No Longer A Fan

NPR:  Not patent related.

Dear Garth Brooks:

Do you know what year this is? I’ll tell you…it’s 2013. You put out your best life’s work in a format that, honestly, shouldn’t even exist anymore. The CD is the new 8-track, my friend.

But I fell for it and bought your new box set, braving Walmart on Black Friday to do so, mind you, because my husband dearly loves you (personally, I like your wife better because she can really cook and I know this because she comes on Food Network right after The Pioneer Woman and I’m way too lazy to change channels on Saturday mornings ) and that’s all he wanted for Christmas.

So I go to rip the CDs to my iTunes library because, referencing the first paragraph here, IT’S THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND AND THIRTEEN and no one switches CDs anymore only it won’t work because of you and your completely idiotic and cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face hatred of all things mp3 or mp4. You have blocked that process during the manufacturing of the CDs.

What.the.hell????

I hate you and all that you stand for and I hope that when you come back on tour no one goes because they have no free time to attend concerts WHAT WITH ALL THE SWITCHING OF CDS THEY’RE HAVING TO DO.

Sincerely,

Steph

(I don’t really hate you but right now?  I totally really hate you.)

The Google’s Chrome Disappoints And I Think It’s Surfcast’s Fault

Remember that company with the really lame website?  Not specific enough, huh.  OK, this is the one I mean, Surfcast.  These are the guys that are suing MSFT over live tiles which, let’s be honest, was really invented way back in the 1940’s by Brockton Enterprises.

The case goes to trial in September and already I’m feeling the effects.  I use Google Chrome as my browser of choice and a few days ago my whole world fell apart.  I have no idea how it happened, but it is definitely the fault of a patent troll because really, isn’t everything?

I used to have a really cool set of little mini-windows…tiles, if you will, that showed all my most recently opened windows.  It made it really easy for me to check TMZ to find out what those silly Kardashians are up to these days.  Now, I get this nonsense:

LiveTiles

WTH, Google?

To say nothing of which WHAT IS UP with the “Ask Toolbar”?  How did I get that installed and can someone please, PLEASE  just make it go away?

I’m blaming this on Surfcast.  Now, I know that we have had a discussion about whether or not they are a true troll (and by “we” I mean “me, myself, and I”).  It’s possible that they came up with the idea and patented it but ran out of funding before they could bring it to an operating system.  Or perhaps they were unable to negotiate the price they wanted for a license from the big boys and so decided to just lay in wait until Windows 8 came out and then stick their hairy knuckles out like the troll they are.

Who knows.  But I’m pretty sure they’re the reason that what was once a really easy to use “New Tab” interface in Chrome has gone all to hell.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Play-uhs Gonna Play

(Here I go again, repeating myself myself…)

I find the most interesting piece of the patent troll puzzle to be the players it brings out.  Taking a stroll down memory lane, you find this seriously outstanding dude.  If ever there was a time to bring out that infamous Jay-Leno-to-Hugh-Grant line, it’s now:  “What the hell were you thinking??”

Probably some of these details are wrong because  I am loathe to look them all up on a Wednesday morning I don’t have a fact checker, but basically Scott Harris held some patents.  While working as an attorney for Fish & Richarson, he licensed out these patents to trolls who would then assert them against clients of his own firm.  You need to be careful walking around after following that circular logic…dizziness leads to falls.

Somehow, I suspect he didn’t get a bonus for being a rainmaker.

Patent law appears to bring out the ugly in everyone.  And as I’ve mentioned before, it matters who the players are.  My new favorite person in this arena is one Mr. Bowman, of Monsanto v. Bowman fame.  Which, interestingly, seems to be styled in reverse half the time.  I don’t get it. ??

What you have here is a case about seeds.  Soybean seeds.  You know that RoundUp stuff you buy at Home Depot to spray on the weeds in the cracks on your driveway?  Well, Monsanto bred a resistance to it in their soybean seeds so that you can spray for the little buggers but not kill the soybean plant. And they have patented the…seeds?  The process of making them RoundUp resistant?  I’m not sure which, but I’m sure it doesn’t matter  because the point is that they sued, among others, a sweet farmer who bought second-generation seeds from a grain seller and has quickly found himself accused of patent infringement.  Take a look:

Aaron P. Bernstein for The New York Times

Aaron P. Bernstein for The New York Times

Who are we kidding here?  Look how adorable that man is, and he even has his dog with him.  A Grandpa and a dog, you’re going to sue that?  You are if you’re Monsanto.   You couldn’t get much drier subject matter if you combed the Sahara desert, yet this story is now everywhere.  I myself even said before that no one was hyping it because it’s about seeds and didn’t have a cool name associated with it.

Enter 70+ year old Bowman and you’ve got yourself a story.  Why?  The players involved.  It’s easy to care about who Monsanto sues when it’s a sweet farmer who defended himself by researching the law at a library because he doesn’t even have a computer.  Tell me that’s not good press!  And then he busts out the quotes like this and the story all but writes itself:

“I was prepared to let them run over me,” Mr. Bowman said, “but I wasn’t getting out of the road.”

Goliath, meet David.

So once again we have a situation where the people are what make it interesting.  What if Ray Niro was a sweet, kind, bespectacled man who had asked kindly could his name please not be used in vain when discussing non-practicing entities whom he happens to represent?  A certain blog still exists then, now doesn’t it?  Niro may or may not be bespectacled but he most certainly is not known for his kind demeanor so the fists started to fly and ZOINKS!  Houston, we have a problem.

What would be super terrific would be to track not only patent troll behavior at the company level, but to start naming names.  Build in a little personality profile of some of the biggest players working for the biggest trolls and see if you can’t use that information to make better informed decisions on how to handle nastygrams.  Also, take a look at the law firms on both sides of the aisle and profile the attorneys.

There’s personality gold in them thar hills, if only you track it and mine for it.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Hyperbole: Defined

No, Samsung, off-the-cuff statements by CEOs are not admissable in court.

In seeking to introduce Jobs’ statements in court, Samsung argued in a filing that the thermonuclear quote “speaks to Apple’s bias, improper motives and its lack of belief in its own claims in that they are a means to an end, namely the destruction of Android.”

Next up, the “But He Pushed Me First!” defense…

Well done on the judge.  Now, if you’d just find the guts to start tossing baseless Troll lawsuits we’d be in business!

Just sayin’,

IPTT