Something Awesome This Way Comes (on September 18th)!

For my last post, I was complaining about Adam Carolla and am sad to report that he has neither answered my question nor taken me to dinner.  Thanks for nothing, you crybaby, you!  I still think I’m on the right side of that one, ya’ll.  He’s just being stupid.

crybaby_02

Not lost on me, the photo is of a little girl…

 

Next up: you all remember your 9th grade English class and having to read Ray Bradbury, don’t you?  In a twisted take on the title (because alliteration, for the win!), today’s topic (!!) involves something very near and dear to me, which is exposing patent trolling behavior for the nastiness that it is.  There are a myriad of ways to do that, but the one I chose was to collect and report on demand letters, those pesky, threatening diatribes sent out en mass by companies who buy up nefarious and/or never-should-have-been-issued patents and set about antagonizing people into paying a license for them or face scary-expensive litigation.

In February of a couple of years ago, I was driving to The Woodlands, TX to pick up a check for some consulting work I was doing at the time and whilst sitting in my Ford F-150 it struck me:  If I can put up a website for people to enter in their demand letters, maybe we can build a database of information about who these trolls are, how and where they operate, what they’re asking for, and who they’re sending letters to.  This is pre-litigation information, and therefore it’s not obtainable through public resources like actual lawsuit information is.  If people would come and input information, we could get out ahead of litigation and, possibly, prevent it.

How?  Well, my thinking was (and remains) that if I provide a way for people to discuss these letters anonymously, maybe they can get together and form a proper defense.  I want That Patent Tool to be the first place someone goes when they receive a demand letter, a place they can do a search and find out if their patent has been at play before, see who else got a letter, and maybe log into the forum and start poking around.  See, the thing is, these guys work on anonymity and cloaking and being all secretive.  If I can get people to enter in information and expose, at the very least, the patents they’re threatening over and the amounts they’re asking for, that might clue others in.  Then, everyone who’s been sent a letter can stand up and say “Um, no.  We don’t think so.  You’re going to have to take us all to court if you want to see a dime.”

Imagine.  Imagine what that would do to the trolling business model.  They count heavily on being able to sneak in licensing requests that are either low enough for Mom & Pop to shell out for with a simple-interest loan from rich Uncle Bob, or just below the litigation cost threshold so bigger companies will sign over a check and have done with it.  They’re not stupid, these guys.

But if we can expose this model and get people searching a database and talking about it, we can force the trolls to take it to litigation every single time.  I’m no mathematician, but that’s gotta put a hurtin’ on a war chest, right?

So I created That Patent Tool in less than a week of coding.  I spent a day finding proper hosting and buying the domain and then six days and nights coding.  I may or may not have gone that entire week without showering and now you can never say I’m not transparent and authentic because that right there is keeping it real, folks.  I don’t even remember if I ate, it’s all a blur.  I know I busted out the rally cap a few times, because nothing says “I’m a legit coder” than wearing your husband’s baseball cap backwards and taking a selfie.

RallyCapCropped

Fun facts: This is one of two known selfies in existence because I’m neither a 12 yr old girl nor a Hollywood starlet (obviously), and oh look! Crumbs on my shirt, which means I ate at least *something* that week.  And now you know.

Anyway, here we are two-plus years later and what has the USPTO gone and done?  Set up a webinar to help business owners find relief from patent litigation.  It’s all right here in their flyer.  And if you’ll look closely on their list of resources for people who’ve been sued, you will find a familiar link.

The webinar takes place this Thursday, September 18th from noon-1:00 Eastern.  Login details in the flyer linked above.

I plan to attend and would encourage anyone and everyone to spread the word and join in!  If I can find a way to hack into the system and make myself presenter, I may even give some advice in person.  Just kidding, Uncle Sam!!  I’m not an attorney so I can’t give advice.

The hacking thing might happen though…

JustSayin_small_New

IPTT

{Hilarious crying baby photo taken by Jill “Like Candy From A Baby” Greenberg.  Check her out, she’s awesome.  Selfie by me because that’s what a selfie is.}

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So Where Are You Taking Me To Dinner With Your $450,000, Adam Carolla?

Just read this update from Joe Mullin on the Adam Carolla whiney-baby fight against the “podcasting troll”.

We all know by reading this and this that I disagree with Joe on the labeling of Personal Audio as a patent troll in the general sense of the word.  As previously stated, he differs in my mind from the standard troll because he a) actually created a “product”, if you will, using the patented idea and sank his own money into it, and b) he sues people who are actually in the same line of business that his patent covers (as opposed to, say, people who have never come close to infringing on anything in their lives).

Adam’s a funny man, and I like his comedy but I don’t like when people are disingenuous.  So you’re telling me that Personal Audio moved to dismiss their case, and Camp Carolla said…no?  Whaaaaat?

What the Ars Technica article doesn’t state is when Personal Audio backed off. Their statement released yesterday is pretty ouchy, though:

“Adam Carolla’s assertions that we would destroy podcasting were ludicrous on their face,” said Personal Audio CEO Brad Liddle. “But it generated sympathy from fans and ratings for his show. Getting his fan base to continue to donate to his legal fund is a cynical exploitation of the publicity power he enjoys as an entertainer.”

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If you want material for your comedy show Adam, I invite you to spend a day in Texas.  The funny just writes itself in the Lone Star State.  I’m wondering if it embarrassed you to have the suit dropped, because of this:

When Personal Audio first began its litigation, it was under the impression that Carolla, the self-proclaimed largest podcaster in the world, as well as certain other podcasters, were making significant money from infringing Personal Audio’s patents. After the parties completed discovery, however, it became clear this was not the case. As a result, Personal Audio began to offer dismissals from the case to the podcasting companies involved, rather than to litigate over the smaller amounts of money at issue.

Oooh.  It’s the “small amounts of money at issue” thing that got you, no?  Look, I get it.  I’d like to think we could all make bazillions of dollars off Teh Interwebs but not everyone can be a Goop.  Personal Audio is no longer coming after you though, so you’re swinging for the fences and no one’s even pitching to you.  Your site is still up, and there’s been no update letting contributors know that their funds aren’t needed anymore.

You’re behaving like the man in line at Sonic who got tots instead of fries and no matter how many times the clerk tells you she’ll gladly swap them out for what you ordered, you insist upon a lifetime of free slushies just because YOU WAS WRONGED, MAN!!

You got what you wanted, Personal Audio dropped the suit.  You’re now the one who’s wrong by leaving your crowdfunding site up and collecting money for something you no longer need.

 

JustSayin_small_New

 

IPTT

{Adam Carolla punch image found here.}

On The Definition Of A ‘Patent Troll’: Let’s Get Personal Once Again

Despite this review, I actually love Love Actually.  Mostly because of the wicked moves Hugh Grant pulls of to the Pointer Sisters, but also because of the way he defends Natalie, who’s ex evidently felt she was a little thick in the middle:

Oooooo, would we call her chubby?

The point is, of course, that he loves her and doesn’t see her that way, even though his staff and others totally do.

Hugh Grant Love Actually Dance

“I’ll take you down, I’ll take you down… where no one’s ever been before!”

 

I don’t love Jim Logan (no offense, but I’m a one man woman!) or Personal Audio.  But what I do feel is the need to break from my buddies over at EFF and examine once again if they, and by “they” I mean Jim, can truly and rightly be labeled a troll.

After suffering  through about 25 million ads sliding in and out at random locations (and the alliterative title), I was able to get through this article at The Economist.  I also read the comments, which is usually where the most fun is.  Also at Techdirt. If you don’t read the comments there then you’re missing 95% of the story.

The article talks about the most outspoken recipient of Mr. Logan’s attention, one Adam Carolla.  If I were Marc Maron, I would be a little irked that his fight is getting more play than mine, but whatever.  I don’t have a beef with Adam at all, and I’m sure he’s right irritated at having to deal with a lawsuit.  But let’s take a look at what we can really call a “troll”, because I don’t think the definition holds water in this situation.

From the article:

his company, ACE Broadcasting Network,being sued a year ago by Personal Audio, a non-practicing patentholding entity (a “patent troll”)

Hold on just a second.  I am at this very moment listening to an NPR podcast (how ironic) where they are playing a cassette tape of what they called the “very first podcast”.  If one of the main definitions of a patent troll is that they are non-practicing entities who don’t produce anything and simply sue over patents, and Jim Logan produced a cassette tape podcast, then how does that not immediately negate at least that part of the troll litmus test?

Now, Mr. Logan’s behavior should be analyzed because as I’ve said before and others have too, you have to look at a pattern of behavior to determine if someone is a troll.  It’s really not a hard and fast definition no matter how much my OCD brain would like for it to be.  The fact of the matter is that Personal Audio is indeed going around suing a lot of people.   Some have settled/taken a license and some are barking about it.  LOUDLY.  (Adam, I’m looking at you.)

While the suit does not detail a specific financial demand, Mr Carolla tells Babbage that he was asked for $3m, a sum he finds laughable based on his network’s revenue (which he does not disclose).

adamcarolla

Your season of Celebrity Apprentice was nuts. Aubrey O’Day? Really?

 

So, the suit didn’t detail a specific demand but Adam was asked for $3M.  That’s…inconsistent.  But the second half of that statement speaks to what I said in a previous post about this:

If Jim Logan had put it all out there in the demand letter and made a reasonable demand for a licensing fee by realizing that Adam Carolla, for all his funny, is not going to have the same resources as an Apple or Microsoft maybe he wouldn’t be so vilified?

I don’t know what Adam’s revenues are and I don’t know what Jim would think a reasonable license fee would be.  But I think that there has to be a somewhere in the middle on this kind of thing.  You cannot argue that Jim Logan didn’t try to monetize his patent with a product when it was issued, something troll are rightly accused of, even though the author of the article tries to do just that in both the above quote and this one:

First, Personal Audio fits the definition of a “patent troll”, or an entity formed for the basis of prosecuting patent lawsuits and licensing without manufacturing products or services.

You could, however, argue that he was ahead of his time, that the technology that would have made his idea more successful hadn’t gotten there yet.

This is why Personal Audio is now saying, “Look, I invented this.  I sunk $1.6* million of my own resources into trying to make it work but the timing wasn’t right.  Now it is, and I would like a cut of what you’re doing because it piggybacks off of what I was doing and oh by the way, I patented it and I have the right to exclude you from doing it unless you pay me a license.  That’s how patenting works.”

*I had incorrectly put a $4M figure here, thank you to my friend for the correction!

{Just to interject here, my beef is with the calling of Personal Audio a troll.  Arguments about prior art on the patent or whether or not the patent should ever have been issued are not the subject here.  Those are different and good arguments and I suppose we’ll see in May what the results of the IPR filed by EFF are.}

You know what would have helped both sides in this sort of thing?  A company like idealAsset, the “match.com for IP”.  If Jim had had a repository in which to place his IP asset, a searchable database with buyers and sellers hooked into it, he might not have had to go around suing.  And if Adam’s lawyers (and other podcaster’s lawyers) had a place where they could go looking to see if there was any IP surrounding what they were trying to do, they could have been matched up, gone on a date, and checked to see if there were any sparks flying that might lead to a permanent engagement or, dare I say it, marriage.

Maybe Jim did ask for decent terms in his original demand letters (if he sent them vs. just straight up suing).  I don’t know, he hasn’t entered any of them into That Patent Tool so we can see, and neither have any of the recipients.

All I know is this is one case where I feel it necessary to channel my inner Hugh Grant/Prime Minister and say:

“Ooooo, would we call him a troll?”

JustSayin_small_New

IPTT

{Adorable Hugh Grant image found here. All business-y image of Adam Carolla found here.}