Aww, blogs grow up so fast these days. One day you’re logging in to WordPress and trying to figure out what theme to use then *WHAM!*: you’re 100 posts into it and you can’t account for 1/2 the time in between. It was only two years ago that I started mouthing off about trolls. Either there’s a whole lot going on with patent trolls or I talk a lot. (Hint: the first one. Definitely the first one.)
When I first starting writing, the Nortel Auction had just occurred and boy were those fun times. Those patents cost “the consortium” 4.5 Billion-with-a-‘B” dollars and helped ignite a Patent War that rages on. Writing about it was the last thing Joe Mullin did before moving over to Ars Technica, and I love that his last post on The Prior Art is still up there.
What’s interesting is to see that some of the things I prattled on about back in July of 2011 are still in vogue, like Lodsys going after developers and my picking on Intellectual Ventures, in comic form. Literally.
Just for fun and because I broke with my usual M.O. and completed a project one hour ahead of time instead of one minute ahead of time, I went back and re-read some older posts. My goal was to make sure that I was consistent with whatever it is I’m saying. I like that term way better than integrity because it’s more descriptive. One’s actions should be consistent with one’s words should be consistent with one’s values.
To that end, I thought it might serve to list out what the whole patent troll issue boils down to for me:
- The business model of purchasing broadly written and poorly enforceable patents and suing anyone and everyone who might even remotely possibly be anywhere close to infringing is not just bad for business or bad for the economy or bad for small inventors or bad for larger businesses. It may not be illegal, but it is WRONG. The difference between those two is the difference between a person with character and a person without it. You don’t see the word “wrong” very often because people don’t like to call a spade a spade for whatever reason. I, however, have no problem with that. Obviously.
- The patent system itself needs to focus on the execution of good ideas rather than the idea itself. Ideas are like buses, according to Richard Branson: A new one comes along every minute. So have your idea, but do something with it! Don’t just pay to have the government hand you a “Granted” stamp and wait for the money to start rolling in.
- Not all who are labeled patent trolls are. One way to distinguish the white hats from the black hats is to
ask Barry Lefftrack troll behavior via a demand letter registry like That Patent Tool. By tracking who the trolls send shakedown notices to, we can build a picture of what’s going on. We can put two and two together and introduce people who are under attack from the same troll and see if there might be a way to join forces and either go on the offensive, or make the process so much harder for the troll that the demand either goes away altogether or is reduced to pennies on the patent. We can build a community and expose the real trolls for who they are: PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG.
I want to see the patent troll problem go away. And I want to see it go away because good ol’ American ingenuity has made it happen, not because the government stepped in to save anyone. New laws and enforcement of existing ones can be a good thing, but I think the solution lies with the people to make this issue go away.
Even though it would put me out of a writing gig, I still want that to happen.