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.}

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The Kind Of Behavior That Only Cousins In Kentucky Should Get Away With

I would apologize to Kentuckians but, as I’ve mentioned before, I lived there for a time during my formative years so I’m allowed to pick on my one-time home state.  Also?  Drew Curtis, Patent Troll Slayer, for Governor.  Vote, y’all.

In another alarming chapter of the “saved from a troll by a troll” play book, Jump Rope misses the rope itself and jumps straight into bed with Erich Spangenberg.  Like Ditto before him, Mr. Braxton of Jump Rope found himself in the unfortunate position of having to take investment money from one of the founders of the business model that put his company in jeopardy to begin with.

It seems a little “Munchausen by proxy”-ish to create a problem and then try to rescue people from it, Erich.  It’s like marrying your cousin, which is only allowed, if I’m not mistaken, in Kentucky.

IP Troll Tracker

In reading a little more background to the story, it looks a lot like personality comes into play here, on the Smart Options side (Smart Options is the company that sued Mr. Braxton and Jump Rope).  It looks to me like what you have is a very small man, in mind if not in physical stature, who didn’t like that Braxton wouldn’t play.

“It’s not clear-cut whether our patents cover what Peter Braxton is doing,” [the attorney for Smart Options] said. “What’s clear-cut is that he chose to say ‘no’ to more than half a dozen reasonable relationships we laid out for him.”

First of all, “reasonable” is in the eye of the beholder so don’t make it out like you’re being generous.  Secondarily, as Braxton pointed out,

But why should Mr. Braxton strike any deal with Smart Options, given that a judge had found that his software didn’t infringe its patent?

(Emphasis mine.)  The answer is because, as we’ve seen over and over again with patent trolls, they want you to pay up (or just disappear, in another sick and twisted plot theme I’ll be exploring in the coming weeks) and won’t stop harassing you until you do.

I wonder what happens in a person’s life as children that they feel the need to throw their weight around as adults? What galls me the most is this white hat status that the likes of IP Nav are trying to throw around.

 

Here he comes to save the daaaayyy!!

Here he comes to save the daaaayyy!!

Whatever.  It’s opportunistic and you know it.  As Mike Masnick at TechDirt puts it:

The story tries to play this out like a “patent troll done good,” but it’s horrifying. It’s one patent troll beating up on a startup, and then allowing a second one to come in and vulture up the leftovers. It’s certainly not good for innovation in any way.

I feel for Mr. Braxton and for Kate Endress of Ditto who were so backed into a corner that they had to choose from two really bad options:  shutter the company or deal with the devil.

I’m not as convinced as Mike is that patent reform at the national level will take care of the problem without creating a bigger mess down the road.  But there has to be a better way than what just happened here.

JustSayin_small_New

IPTT

{Mullet-headed man meme found here.  Mighty Mouse image found, inexplicably, here. Base for Mighty Mouse/Spangenberg morph found here.}

I’m Bringing “Fark-y” Back (With Apologies to Justin Timberlake)

So it’s not really me so much as it is Bloomberg bringing them back.  Whatever.

Remember this post re: Fark Farks A Troll?  Have you seen Drew Curtis’s Bloomberg interview yet, because it’s totally worth watching.  If you don’t have time, here’s my summary:

Q:  So how did you take them out?

A: {loosely translated}

I used the Golden Rule:  Do Unto Others As They Have Done Unto You.  I took the troll out by being just as obnoxious and time-consuming to them as they were to me.

Exactly.  Do not let them win, ever.  There’s no crying in baseball and there’s no settling with trolls.

Q:  How stressful was it dealing with these clowns?

A: {translated almost exactly}

It’s about as stressful as if you woke up in your living room to find the police are discussing with the robbers about how much of your stuff they’re going to take.

So the robbers are the trolls in this scenario, but who are the police?  At times, it feels as though the entire court system is, in that we don’t (yet) have enough judges who’re going to toss these craptastic suits out and we don’t have a USPTO that’s issuing decent patents.  This is such a great analogy and I wish I had cartoon-drawing skills to put a visual to it.

Q:  Did you ever find out who was behind it?

A: {loosely translated}

Nope.  These  guys hid, like the cowards that they are, behind shell company after shell company because they’re too embarrassed to have the light of day shined on them.

Here’s a tip:  if you can’t do operate out in the open, then something’s wrong with your business model.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Fark farks a troll

In celebration, a haiku:

Farked with the wrong guy / had your hat handed to you / buh bye, Gooseberry!

So this brings me to what a twittered about.  Tweeted.  Whatever.  Although it’s only been a couple of recent victories, wherein attorneys were sanctioned and a troll was put in it’s place, there’s an undercurrent of “the times, they are a-changin'” in Patent Troll Land.  I’m too lazy to go look up actual stats, (read:  I want someone else to do my research because these kids don’t feed themselves, you know)  but my gut is telling me that some of it has to do with these guys.  As an aside, don’t you hate it when bloggers do that?  Hyperlink a few key words like “this is cool” without telling you what is cool so you are forced to click the link?  I don’t do that, because I rock.  “These guys” = Article One Partners.

This is such a brilliant concept…what these guys do is further upstream than patent defense aggregators.  Or downstream.  I spent a lot of years in the oil business but still can’t tell you if the gas station is up or downstream.  The point is that Article One has gone to the lowest common denominator of the patent troll:  THE PATENT ITSELF.

If you can prove that prior art exists, then the troll’s case is DOA.  And the super cool thing about the way A1 does this that they are playing off the oldest known fact about geeks:  they will do anything just to say they did it.  (Or for a free t-shirt, not that that has ever appealed to me.)  Patent nerds and techies live to solve problems using their black magic ways.  The fact that A1 pays them is icing on the cake.  These people doing the work are doing it because they love it.  They love to root for the underdog, to take down the Big Bad Troll.  It’s inbred in them in exactly the same way that a sense of fashion is not inbred in me.

No, this is not what happened in the Fark case, but because they knew the patent was bogus it allowed them to stand up and say “No thankyouverymuch to your lawsuit there, pal.”  My point is that I think what Article One is doing is a very clever and low-cost way to fight the troll problem.  You can hope for sanctions against law firms that take on these cases and you can hope that patent reform will someday be a reality, and actually, you know, be reform and not just political posturing like everything else that  comes out of D.C.  There’s nothing wrong with fighting the battle on a few fronts while the overall war rages.  Kudos to Article One for it’s brilliant use of crowdsourcing and making it a sustainable business model for good.

Just sayin’,

IPTT