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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That Big Sonic Boom Late Last Week? That Was Rockstar, Getting The Party Started

First of all, I feel not unlike Rodney Dangerfield these days, what with the President’s lack of regard for my schedule and now the reports of Rockstar Consortium’s decision to file a lawsuit that came on Halloween night when I’m busy trying to ferret out all the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups from the candy my kids got.  Thanks, Rockstar.

So here’s my question for the consortium members:  At what point do you spend your time improving your own products and innovating instead of hiring people to deconstruct the success of others?

I don’t know the going rate for cell phone reverse engineers is these days, but I know that it’s probably a pretty penny especially since Rockstar reportedly hired 10 of them.  Ten people.  To spend all day and night ripping apart a product to see if it infringes on one of 4,000 patents.

Haystack, meet the needle.

It took you a little over two years to do it but low and behold, you feel as though you’ve gotten the smoking gun, the holy grail that will do…what?  Tie your money up in litigation for years?  And in that time span, your hope is that the Android share of the cell phone market will decline, right?  That the man on the street is going to go “ZOMG!  My Android-based phone was made by a company who infringed on a patent!!  I simply must change platforms now, for I cannot be a party to this madness.”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Harvey Spector eyeroll

What is so disconcerting about this whole thing is this:

“The principals have plausible deniability,” said Thomas Ewing, an IP attorney who spoke to Wiredabout Rockstar. “They can say with a straight face: ‘They’re an independent company. We don’t control them.’ And there’s some truth to that.”

“Plausible deniability”?  What is this, the movie Independence Day?  We’re not talking about some alien holed up in Area 51 which is (probably) fictional and no one told the President so that if the aliens ever did attack, the public wouldn’t go crazy saying he knew all about it which is pretty much the whole plot of the movie so I totally just saved you a Netflix rental, you’re welcome.

What we’re talking about is heads of the major smart phone manufacturers getting beat into the ground by phones using an operating system that is, whether better than theirs or not, out-selling them so they have stamped their little feet and said “Fine.  We can’t beat you fair and square?  We’ll have our consortium sue you.”

Smartphone_marketShare_macRumors

Again, “plausible deniability?”  Please do not pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.  Any deniability on the facts surrounding what is really going on here is completely implausible.  When it  comes to Google specifically, there’s this:

Rockstar may want to keep the patent conflict as a kind of “proxy war” between Google and its competitors. But Google has plenty of patents, and this new attack seems assured to bring a counterattack.

Right?  I mean, in what world does Microsoft and Apple and the other 10%-ers believe that Google won’t retaliate?

Here’s the final kicker, from this article by Seth Fitzgerald:

One of the most intriguing aspects of the lawsuit is that Google had tried to buy the Nortel patents for $900 million but lost when Rockstar put up a significantly larger bid. Google went on to counter Rockstar by acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12 billion. Despite losing the chance to acquire Nortel’s patents, Rockstar claims Google went about using Nortel’s ideas anyway.

I maintained back then and still do now that Google didn’t want those patents (read here and here).  What they wanted to do was drive the price way up, and they did.  Fast forward to now, and while Rockstar has spent two years and lots of money digging for their “Ah ha!” moment so they could come out swinging, Google went right on with their bad self and put their money into innovations such as Google Glass.  I’m not all up in Google’s financial business but I can only presume that since they weren’t paying off that $4.5 Billion bill, they also instead used their money to buy an actual operating company that comes with a whole set of patents that they can now pull out of their back pocket and use.

When I was in the 4th grade with Mrs. Unger, she had us all draw a picture of a nuclear warhead.  Each picture represented X number of weapons that the US had.   Then, a certain sub group of students was asked to draw a warhead that represented X number weapons that the USSR had.  The whole point was to show us that really, after a certain point, it didn’t matter how much fire power each side had because the minute one country or the other fired off, we were all assuredly going to be dead.

Mutually assured destruction, I think is what she called it.

Right.

JustSayin_small_New

IPTT

{Harvey Spector eye roll found here. Chart of smartphone market share found here.}

And the Winner of the Best Alternative Name for a Patent Troll is…

Just saw this article re: Google accusing Nokia and MSFT of patent collusion, via Twitter (by @PatentWire).  This has got to be the best alternative definition of Patent Troll ever:

MOSAID Technologies Inc., a company that specializes in collecting royalties on intellectual property

You’re kidding me, right?  We don’t bully people, we don’t sue nefariously, we aren’t the modern day Mafia, we simply “collect royalties on intellectual property”.  Not.enough.belly-laughing.smilies.

And wouldn’t Mr. Cook appreciate this:

About 1,200 of the  transferred to MOSAID are considered to be essential elements in the operation of most mobile devices.

So as patents covering essential elements, they ought to be exempt from any lawsuits, right?  Isn’t that what Timmy Boy just told us? Man, I cannot find the link to the video where he basically said “If we own the patent for it, then you need to step back, Jack, and git outcher wallet*.  If someone else owns the patent for it, then it’s an essential element patent and everyone should get rights to it (for free?  I dunno, he didn’t say) and no one should sue over it.”  Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, it’s a good thing you’re so wealthy.  You have plenty of money to feed that ego.

I {heart} the world of patents.  You people gots the crazies.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

*Texan for “PAY UP, PAL”

Back in the Saddle Again

I’m not sure who owns the copyright to that song, but I’m sure I’ll be hearing from their lawyer in 5, 4, 3…

After an eight month not-so-self-induced hiatus, it’s time to get back to it.

When last we left our hero, comments were being made about the patent arms race and whether it was over and what was Google doing and by the way, what ever happened to that girl who wrote comics that Techdirt published and then all of a sudden didn’t publish anymore?  Anway, it’s time to see where things stand, and I’m opening with an article about how the patent trolls ate all the tech jobs for breakfast, no thanks to patent reform laws, patents in general, and the real trolls of the world, the lawyers.

The article was written by one Vivek Wadhwa and probably I should know who that is but I don’t.  The first quote I want to pull is self-serving.  Transparency…I haz it:

Because of flaws in the patent system and government leaders’ misunderstandings, there is an arms race of sorts happening in the tech industry that is sapping billions out of the economy and crushing technology startups

I posted lo those many moons ago that the Nortel auction started the patent race, that Google artificially inflated the price of it, and that Google’s purchase of the Motorola patents for significantly more than the Nortel auction price,  didn‘t effectively end the patent arms race.  I see Vivek Wadhwa holds the same opinion.  So I’m in what…good company?  (I really must look this person up.)  I just like to be right sometimes, that’s all.  I live with three preteens and the neediest, most obstinant dog on the planet so it doesn’t happen very often.

So beyond being happy that my original statement has borne out, I really, really like this closing quote:

It’s time to go back to the old idea that patentees have rights over things they build, not over solving problems by any means

Until this happens, you won’t stop any of the shenanigans and ballyhoo that plague innovation.  Honestly, I think the first thing that plagues innovation is laziness:  people come up with an idea and they jump straight to charging a price for it without even building anything or showing, conclusively, that the idea can be used to add value.  But when people are able to create something that brings value and work tremendously hard to do so, and some company comes after them for a bogus infringement claim, they’re dead.  Who’s going to enter that game with the next big thing?  Not too many people.

I think that, in addition to moving the patent world back to rights over tangible objects and the process of building them, a move towards the “use it or lose it” system would be a HUGE step in the right direction.  Credit:  @ShawnWayne via Mark Cuban’s blog.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Forbes to CEOs, come in CEOs

I hate when a cool article comes out and I don’t notice it until a week later.

Forbes had an interesting open letter to CEOs a few Fridays ago.  As is my customary practice, let’s pull a few quotes out and examine them.  Just for fun on a Monday!

The truth is that the number of patent infringement suits each year has held steady for seven years at just under 3,000.

Now, that can’t be right.  Can it?  Even if it were, we all know that just the threat of a lawsuit costs money.  Whether or not a troll actually files a suit, being in receipt of a nastygram causes all manner of problems.  (Unless you’re an attorney, in which case it causes all manner of billable hours.)  Nevertheless, point made but it doesn’t address the scourge of the troll problem, part of which is that it eats up time and resources used to defend against people who aren’t adding any value by manufacturing and selling a product.

Next up:

No, Google bought a great deal more than patents when it acquired Motorola, though there are doubtless some real gems in the portfolio. As a relative newcomer to the wireless arena, the search giant in one bold move got its hands on the unmatched innovation experience of the longest-lived mobile phone company on earth. The technical acumen and product experience of Motorola’s thousands of mobile software and hardware engineers will prove hugely valuable to Google as it seeks to dominate the $250 billion global market in smartphones, especially if it decides to become a handset maker, as Motorola had been.

So this is sort of what I was saying in a previous post (which I should really look up the link to but haven’t the patience at the moment)…Google bought Motorola not just for the patents, but because it puts them into the hardware game.  I still think that they are going to move to the tablet world and out-iPad the iPad.  Or, the distance between the size of the smartphone and the tablet will be met in the middle and you’ll end up with a Google-made SmartPad or a TabPhone or some other amalgomation that is conveniently transportable by men who don’t carry purses and/or are not married to women who carry purses, which are of course needed to carry a tablet.  Yes, I know, men can carry tablets in a briefcase, but who carries a briefcase on the weekend?  I think what the world needs is a tweener product:  smaller than a tablet, bigger than a smartphone.

Back to reality, Google also used the patents to out-source it’s assertion business to HTC by assigning patents to them and letting them go about the suing business.  Nicely done!  And that is part of what the article is aiming at:  getting CEOs to understand that patents are not just something you have to have in order build stuff, and they’re not just something those folks in legal deal with.  The article provides really good insight into how you can leverage what you have, get the most out of what you buy, and thrive in this Brave New World.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Google + Motorola = iPad Killer

The world is still all a-flutter over the Google/Motorola deal.  Reuters wrote a piece the other day (yesterday, which was also the start of the new school year for my kids so time has been tight as I get them geared up), and I’d like to throw my hat into the discussion ring on it.  Let’s start with a quote:

Google’s move was widely seen as a response to its loss in the auction of 6,000 Nortel patents to a group led by Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Research in Motion, which fetched an unprecedented $4.5 billion in July.

At the risk of beating the poor horse completely into the ground, I still don’t think Google wanted those patents.  THEY WOULD HAVE THEM IF THEY DID.  Money was not an option.  No, I think that Google wanted to run up the price on the patents to jump-start the “Patent Arms Race”, and watch while everyone else bought into it but them.   I think they had plans to buy Motorola all along, and that they have plans to build an actual product.  Further, I think that product will be the tablet that beats the iPad.

I’ll pause while that sinks in.

Part of me thinks that because of another article I read about who can beat Apple at the tablet game.  They didn’t mention Google, so I’m doing it for them.  (I’m nice that way.) If anyone can beat Apple at anything, it’s Google. I said it and I’m glad.

Back to the original article, I don’t think the race is likely to be over so quickly, and certainly not because of Google’s purchase, be it for patents or product development.  (Yes, I do like commas, why do you ask?) I still think the Nortel Patent price was artificially inflated by Google, but I don’t think the prices will come back down automatically.  The war is not only not over, it’s just begun, IMHO*.

Because of the Patent Troll problem and because of the flaws in the patent system, you have to build your stable of patents and everyone who can, will.  Maybe things will go back to normal?  Time, and the InterDigital sale and Eastman Kodak auction.  But either way, I think Google snookered everyone.  They got a decent base of patents, that they can call upon for defensive purposes if needed, for a fraction of the Nortel prices.  And, they have hardware capability now too.  Giddyup.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

*In My Humble Opinion

Nortel buyers, are you angry yet?

So today should be fun!   The whole world (ok, the small slice of it that follows patents) will be weighing in on Google’s recently announced purchase.  Not liking to be left out even though I have a lot of work to do, I feel compelled to add in my 50 cents.  In no particular order, save that the list is actually ordered because I like numbers rather than bullets, are my comments:

1.  What did I tell you?  If Google had wanted the Nortel patents they’d have won the auction.  They had the money, and they had this up their sleeve the whole time.

2.  Then, Google puts out the whiney-baby, “feel sorry for us” article wherein I likened them to a dude that tried to play my friend (note to playah: knock it off, or she’ll knock it off for you).  Well played, Big G.  Throw everyone off the “we’re about to buy Motorola” scent.

3.  How mad is the consortium that bought Nortel’s patents right about now?  Big G ran up the bidding and forced you all to (over)pay a ton of money.  That sent reverberations throughout the industry and forever changed the valuation of every company on the planet with a portfolio.  InterDigital, anyone?  Man, those guys had to be ecstatic!  Here’s a hint, Southern style:  when they bid pi?  You done been had.

4.  Quote from the Wired.com article:

“Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies,” Page wrote.

Again, nicely played.  So, instead of spending $4.5B on a patent portfolio alone, they are now a hardware manufacturer as well.  See how that works?  INTELLECTUAL VENTURES, I’m looking at you.

I like consistency and this purchase meets that criteria.  While recognizing that patents are required to operate in the smartphone space, broken system or not, Google chose to buy a hardware company.  Any patents Motorola has now transfer to Google so they have gotten into the manufacturing business and now hold patents that they can use to defend themselves, all in one foul swoop.  They are behaving in a way that is consistent with the message they have been putting out.  I like that.

Larry Page, for the win.

Just sayin’,

IPTT