What Made The Trolls Trolls, Anyway?

I know what it was…they were mistreated as children.  Their Mommies wouldn’t let them eat ice cream for breakfast, and made them make their beds and bring their laundry down each morning.  When the Look of Death failed to frighten her into submission, they packed up their marbles and went in search of better living accommodations where they soon realized that they actually couldn’t do much better out on their own and maybe, just maybe, Mom knew what she was talking about but out of spite, settled under bridges and scared passersby into paying them a toll to cross over to the other side.

Actual Look of Death from my actual child.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

 

But if we’re talking about patent trolls, the road to perdition is a little less clear.  There are lots of different reasons, the way I see it, that the problem has  gotten out of hand.  Here’s a list of where I think things went wrong.  These are just my opinions, of course.

Lack of Court Competition – It’s been posited to me on Twitter that perhaps it isn’t the Federal Circuit, as this article by Timothy B. Lee suggests, that has been a factor.  I disagree.  I think that whenever there’s a lack of competition for something, be it a consumer product or justice, that’s not good and it breeds advantage-taking.  From the article:

 The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals enjoys a monopoly over patent appeals, and it has used that power to shift patent law in a direction more favorable to patent holders, including trolls. Taking away the Federal Circuit’s monopoly over patent law would be a big step toward bringing balance back to the patent system.

Now, maybe they didn’t use their power to shift patent law to favor patent holders.  Patents themselves favor the holder!  But when there’s no check or balance built in, this is a risk you run. That’s an issue, and something that trolls are wont to take advantage of because that’s how trolls roll.

Further, there’s the idea of “pay to play”:

They don’t just hear patent lawyers’ arguments in their courtrooms, they also mingle with them at conferences and social events.

This is what Gene Quinn at IP Watchdog was getting at when he talked about the big corporations rubbing elbows with lawmakers, and about how they didn’t really care about patent trolls so much as they were in bed out playing golf with them.  Timothy Lee makes a similar argument, only with troll lawyers and judges.  If there’s only one circuit of appeals (Supreme Court notwithstanding because we all know very little makes it that far) and those judges are hobnobbing with the lawyers who appear before them, then how impartial are they, really?  This is why I think the Federal Circuit is a part of the problem.

The Death of the ‘Dust Docket’ – Whether it was a result of tort reform or people having had enough of the huge judgments against companies as a result of shady personal injury trial lawyers, the dockets for things like asbestos poisoning began to dry up.  So where’s a sneaky lawyer to go?  Hmmm…patents.

The barriers to entry to file a patent infringement suit, or better yet, simply send out a bagillion demand letters, are low.  All it takes is an attorney with some free time and pretty (or not) letterhead, and there you go.  Some patent attorneys are complicit in the problem, is my point, and I’ve written about that.

Bad Patents – Patent quality matters.  When patents that are overly broad and cover obvious claims are issued by the USPTO, it creates the perfect scenario for troll tactics.  Article One Partners chose an excellent tag line, and they’re going after the problem at the very lowest common denominator.  You have a host of patents related to business methods and software that should never have been issued.  But now that the genie is out of the bottle, how do you put it back in?

Very expensively.  You either file an IPR, fight full-on in court, seek declaratory judgement…whatever you do is going to cost you something.  And that’s just what the trolls are counting on when they seek to buy up these rogue patents and throw them around like daggers.

The issue of bad patents is partially a result of patent examiner practices, which you can read about here, here, and here.  It’s a related problem, and it helps feed the trolls.

Lack of Desire to Fight– Not all companies that are hit with a demand letter or an infringement suit are going to fight.  They have their reasons that they don’t want to be on the Patent Troll Fighter Heros Gallery, and that’s OK.  (It’s not, really, it’s very hurtful to me personally but I recognize that it’s not about me even though it totally should be.)  But every time someone rolls over, it makes the trolls stronger.  It reinforces their business model and they learn that if they just keep trolling, the money will keep rolling in.

Sometimes, victims of troll-ish tactics actually approach another troll for help.  This makes zero sense to me, but I’m not trying to save my company so I try hard not to put on my Judgy McJudgesteron pants.  Although it is very difficult.

It may not be so much a lack of desire to fight as it is a lack of funds to fight.  I do recognize that.  And then there are the companies that just don’t give a rat’s.  They have the money to fight but it’s not really a big deal to them.  If they can pay a license fee, even if it’s higher than it should be because trolls are greedy and awful, then so be it.  It keeps their in-house counsel focused on other issues more germane to the bottom line, so they cut the check and move on.  I hate it when that happens, because it sends exactly the wrong message to the trolls, which is that trolling works.

patent-troll-graphic-final

Image by Alan Schoenbaum.
Awesome.

 

Just like there’s not a single, reliable litmus test for who’s a troll and who’s not, there’s not just one reason that patent trolls troll.  I think these are the most obvious ones, and what started me off on this topic was the push back on Twitter regarding Timothy’s article about the Federal Circuit.

I wasn’t able to articulate my response in Twitter’s 140 characters because, and you may have noticed this, I tend towards verbosity.

No really, it’s true.

JustSayin_small_New

IPTT

{Image of Michael, now age 11 and still scowling like a madman, by me.  Troll drawing by Alan Schoenbaum of Rackspace.}

How Many Normal People Does It Take To Equal A Thug, Anyway?

From IP Nav’s comments about the recent Consumer Electronics Show, that ratio sits at about seven to one.  I always enjoy IP Nav‘s comments on things mostly because I think that Barry Leff writes them and I like him.  Never having met him in person, I do believe that he genuinely believes he’s on the right side of this debate, and I like that in a person.

Anyway, here’s a visual for you right-brainers out there:

ThugsVNormalPeople_updated

Evidently, Erich Spangenberg was unhappy that he was the only one on his side of the line up for a talk that was part of the CES Innovation Policy Summit.  Leaving aside the fact my opinion that patents do not equal innovation, it seems the summit drew a crowd, or at least the “Patent Litigation Reform: Who are You Calling a Troll?” panel did.  (For the record, the answer to the question is “You, Erich.”)

Barry’s blog post for IP Nav takes us on a trip down memory lane, because nothing holds one’s interest more than a story about how a troll became a troll.  But oops, wait just a second.  We shouldn’t call Mr. Spangenberg a troll because

He’s not uncomfortable with the term “troll,” as the term has come to mean anyone who files a patent lawsuit.

Don’t make me pull out the Harvey Specter eye roll so early on a Monday morning, please.  *sigh*

Not anyone who files a patent lawsuit is a troll.  You sound like J Nicholas Gross or Andy Pitchford now.  Further, definitely not everyone who files a patent lawsuit is a troll either, only those who behave like thugs are.  You know, like people who go after everyone and their uncle (and even the US Government, for crying out loud) because they have a crap patent that says you can’t scan and email without paying them to do it.  And oh, look!  You agree (emphasis mine):

Picking on app developers, tiny companies and sending letters with no justification is crazy—

Indeed.  But want to hear what’s even crazier?  Suing people using one of your shell companies and not even telling them what they infringed on.  (This is a good write up of those wanton antics, with a great quote from a Techdirt article on same.)  Oh, don’t throw out that tired line about it affecting declaratory judgment and venue.  What you’re trying to do is extract a settlement because taking it to court is more expensive.  That’s the troll MO, whether the troll uses base-less threatening letters or not.

One final quote from the article:

Bad behavior is not exclusively the province of patent owners.

No, it isn’t.  But it’s the province of companies like IP Nav, and there are at least seven normal people who can agree on that.

JustSayin_small_New

IPTT

Lodsys Takes One On The Chin, Pwned By Pro Bono Lawyers

Well well well, what have we here?   I haven’t looked yet for can’t find the name of the law firm that handled the case but wouldn’t you love to shake their hand, give ’em a big ol’ Texas Hug and say “Atta Boy!”?

I totally would.  First round of margaritas is on me!!

Background added:  Lodsys is a shell of Intellectual Ventures company that is going after app developers for using in-app purchases because they say they have a patent on that, and are demanding that developers rustle up some licensing fees but quick.  One app developer fought back with the help of some pro bono attorneys who gave up a $200k paycheck to help.  They brought Lodsys to its knees in a settlement that ended up putting money in the hands of a charitable organization.  Which is winning on every.single.front.

Forbes has their take on the story in this article, and I want to bring a few things to light, namely his main point, if I may be so bold as to disagree.  Ahem.

And the answer to killing the trolls while still allowing the legitimate patent assertion entities to flourish is to level that legal and financial playing field. Something that could be done very simply.

Actually, I do agree that it can be done simply, but not using his tactic, which is as follows:

Just move to loser pays all legal fees in patent cases.

That sounds super terrific on the surface, but the way the shell game works is that these entities who are doing the suing are playing funny money.  You can’t get blood out of a turnip, as my grandfather used to say.  Do you think that if a Lodsys/Intellectual Ventures (because let’s just call a quacking duck a quacking duck here, they’re one and same) does lose that they’ll pony up the fees?

I don’t think so.

I think they’ll do what they do best:  lie, cheat, hide, be nefarious, all of those things.  They’re going to make it all go *POOF*, all of their assets and bank accounts.  Besides which, not spending the money on a defense up front is always preferable to trying to get it back afterwards.  Once it’s out of your hands, money is really tough to get back under any circumstances.  (Don’t ask me how I know that because I totally do not have a bag of clothes in my closet that don’t fit/didn’t match/need to go back to the store for some reason but I haven’t made the time to take them. )

Same thing here: the money’s spent on the suit up front: whether or not the loser is required to pay, and really it should be called “loser pays back“, that money’s already left the defendant’s coffers. If nothing else, you lose the interest so supposing you do get it back, you’re still out the time value of money. You’re welcome for showing off the mad math skillz you taught me in 4th grade, Mrs. Unger.

I think a better approach, and I’ve said this many times, is a sort of crowd funding for these suits. Bring people together who have a vested interest in seeing this problem go away, and give them a place to put some funds.  I recently learned of DefenseMob, whose purpose is to crowdfund patent defense, which can include patent litigation.  It can also be used to fund things like re-exam, or inter partes review (IPR) requests which is how Rackspace is going after IP Nav.  I’m no genius, but isn’t that exactly what we need?  The beauty of it is that it allows the little guys a chance, and that’s who the trolls are increasingly going after because they tend to fight the least.  If there was a way to get the money fronted, even if it’s just a portion of it, you have to believe that more of them would fight, no?

This type of solution needs no government intervention.  It needs no legislation, no persuading of judges, no permission from anyone.  All it needs is people willing to solve the problem collaboratively using any amount of funds they’re willing to let go of for a common good.

And if that common good means someone like Nathan, who wants so terribly bad to be the next Cooking Channel celebrity, goes down in a blaze of glory like his henchmen Lodsys just did, doesn’t it make you want to do it even more?

mhyrvold_guy fieri mesh

Nathan Mhyrvold/Guy Fieri mashup.
In case that wasn’t obvious.

The answer is yes, Yes it does.

JustSayin_small

IPTT

{Guy image found here: http://theonefeather.com/2011/03/guy-fieri-bringing-his-food-tour-to-harrah%E2%80%99s-cherokee/  Nathan image found here: http://www.intellectualventures.com/index.php/about/leadership/nathan-myhrvold}

Dear Companies That I Think Are Infringing: Don’t Make Me Go Thug! Love, IP Nav

There’s something just so endearing about a grown man using language normally reserved for the youngsters of a generation.  Personality, as we know from the Monsanto v. Bowman seed stealing case, matters and that is no more apparent than in this article in the New York Times about Erich Spangangberg, he of IP Nav um…fame?  Notoriety? Infamy?  You pick.

Herein lies the rub:

“Erich saved our bacon,” said Steve Dodd, a patent holder with a client company called Parallel Iron. “We were more than $1 million in debt and I was getting ready to file for bankruptcy.”

I have no intimate knowledge of what Parallel Iron does or what Steve Dodd’s patent is for so I’m going to just go right ahead and speak out of turn by saying that if you’re having to file for bankruptcy, might there be a reason beyond “I haven’t monetized my IP correctly?”  Something along the lines of tough competition, a failed new product release, a global recession, I hired my sister to do my books and she stole me blind…you know, things like that?  And really, Steve, how much of what Erich got in the patent shakedown licensing that he did for you did you get to keep?  It’s been said that

only about $6 billion of that money wound up in the hands of inventors,” said James Bessen, a co-author of the study and a professor at the Boston University School of Law.

I know that study has come under question, by me as well as few others, but if the numbers are in fact to be believed, then 6 billion out of the 23 billion that was spent on these lawsuits is {pulls up calculater} is 20.68%.  So all those inventors that companies like IP Nav are claiming to help are getting roughly 21 cents on the dollar.  Well, that seems fair.  I realize that Parallel Iron managed to come out of their negotiations with 42.5% of any settlement revenue so they’re beating the average.  But that’s still less than 50%, which tells me what we all already know:  IP Nav and their ilk have no true interest in helping the small inventor, they have an interest in helping their own bottom line, and the bottom line on their bottom line is this:  “…[they are] profiteering from a flawed and creaky legal system.”

This little nugget was fascinating:

He stands about 5-foot-6 and was bullied as a child because of his height. He always fought back, he says, and he usually lost; his nose has been broken by an assortment of fists. This has given him a lifelong hatred of bullies, which explains, he says, why he wound up in a job where he often stands with a small company assailing a larger one.

The irony just drips off that last sentence no?  Maybe the reason his phone is “ringing with new business” despite the public humiliation that should have accompanied a couple of Judge’s smackdowns (which you can read about in the link to the NY Times article) is because these inventors seeking his services were also bullied as children, and are now performing some sort of sick and twisted retaliation in the form of being a bully-by-proxy and hiring Spangenberg.  I don’t fully understand the psychology of bullying, but something weird is going on here.  Maybe I should send Erich my therapist’s number.  If I had one, I mean…

“Love, fear or greed,” he says, citing the key human motivations that are his leverage when he approaches any company. “I always start with love.”

That usually means an assertion letter, which may not sound very loving to recipients. In 2011, a judge in Wisconsin — not the one who mauled him — quoted from an IPNav assertion letter that included this sentence: “We are focused on addressing these issues without the need for costly and protracted litigation.”

I’m no expert on love, but I’m pretty sure that veiled threats is not one of the forms it takes.  Call me crazy, but it probably also doesn’t entail “going thug” on people.  IP Nav isn’t using love here, they’re being a bully.  The only way you can make a bully stop is to take away his power by standing up to him, like Rackspace and Neiman Marcus and NewEgg and others are starting to do.

There’s no app for that, but here’s a few visuals to get you all fired up again!

Image courtesy of the Braveheart movie people.  I didn't take it, am not claiming to have.

Image courtesy of the Braveheart movie people. I didn’t take it, am not claiming to have.

Superheroes

Rackspace to the left of trolls, Neiman Marcus to the right!

I don’t care how much money Mr. Spangenberg has or how many cars he has or where he lives.  I care about what he’s doing, and that it’s wrong.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Patent Trolls To Everyone Else: “Sticks And Stones, People!”

Remember that little song and dance your Mother used to give you when you were a kid and the brat across the street told you to stick a rubber hose up your nose?  What, that never happened to you?  Anyway… “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you” is how it went.  To this day, I’m unsure if she was telling me to suck it up, buttercup, or that I was about to be assaulted by a group of kids with baseball bats and rocks. I deserved both neither, I assure you.

There have been a fair amount of synonyms for “patent troll” bandied about in my day, and it seems the trolls have taken that little ditty to heart, for they do not appear in any way hurt by the insults hurled at them. (Unless you count one of the two five-gallon hat wearing guys down in EDTX.  Right, Ray?) Nevertheless, the Moms of patent trolls must’ve dug that lesson in deep because dayum, can they take it or what?

Topping my list of insults used to be Rackspace’s use of “the world’s most notorious patent troll” when referring to IP Nav.  Can anyone over the age of 19 get away with saying “BUUUURN!!“?  No?  Then I’ll just smile sweetly and say “Good one!”

I dare say it, but they have been outdone.  In a case against IWS, none other than Cisco Systems has filed for declaratory judgment and to add insult to injury, has said that they are part of “the most recently recurring plague on this country’s patent system”, according to a quote from a post on the Essential Patent Blog.  Let’s say it together one more time, shall we?  Just for giggles:

the most recently recurring plague on this country’s patent system

If I were IWS I’d be all “Did anyone get the license on that bus that just smooth ran us over?”  Someone call the WWE because that is one pretty hot smackdown.

Truth is, I love those words because they are perfectly descriptive of the problem.  Patent trolls stifle innovation and threaten start-ups and drain R&D money from corporations, all of those things are true to one degree or another.  But at the heart of the matter, they are indeed a plague on the country’s patent system, a slick workaround to the alternative of working hard and using patents to build rather than tear down.

It’s refreshing to see these companies coming out swinging, all “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take it anymore!”  It really does have to be an all out (or all in, as it were) approach with these guys.  The first time you roll over and let them pat your belly, you’re forever in the one-down position.  They may hit the tickle spot the first time, but before you know it they’ve collared you and are leading you around by your nose.  Hierarchy is very important to bullies so you have show them who’s boss each time, every time.

Both the Cisco motion (which I see that HP has copied)  and Rackspace’s against Parallel Iron are in the Western District of Texas but we might soon just call it the Wild Wild West(ern) District of Texas.

You can't see it from here, but that cowboy totally just tossed a patent troll off that cliff.  True story.

You can’t see it from here, but that cowboy totally just
tossed a patent troll off that cliff. True story.

I’m not not sure what’s in the water out there, but I want some of it shipped to my doorstep toot sweet.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

{note:  image above found at http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/slideshow-photo/wild-wild-west-monument-valley-united-states.html?sid=10071272&fid=upload_12769675532-tpfil02aw-20674}

Vermont’s AG Is The Patent World’s Luke Skywalker

And the cast of characters grows.

So by now we’ve all heard about the this story, wherein the Attorney General of the great state of Vermont has gone after the scanner dudes:

MPHJ and its principals may have gone too far. They’re now the subject of a government lawsuit targeting patent trolling—the first ever such case. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has filed suit in his home state, saying that MPHJ is violating Vermont consumer-protection laws.

William Sorrell, lightsaber in hand (and how ironic is that because lightsabers use light and scanners use light so it’s pretty much exactly the same thing, is what I’m saying), has gone on a troll hunt.

Luke Skywalker, Star Wars Hero

I didn’t take this picture.
Disney now owns it.
George Lucas? I hope you didn’t make a big mistake.

In just the same way that our farm boy hero jumped on the rebellion bandwagon to try and take down Lord Darth Vader, that empty shell of a man machine who was nothing more than a puppet for Emperor Palpatine,  Mr. Sorrell has lept into the patent fray to try and take down the other “most notorious troll” in the  game.  And boy, did he pick a winner.  The cast of characters in this party?  Don’t that beat all.

mac-rust

Jay Mac Rust, from 2006 magazine cover of Super Lawyers Texas “Rising Stars.”

There’s a saying in Texas that I think best suits this image:  “All hat, no cattle.”  Ahem.  Read all about them folks here in the Arstechnica write up by Joe Mullin.

I don’t know what’s in the water in Vermont, but evidently they grow some serious investigative skills up there:

But Vermont investigators were able to get additional information not available to defense lawyers (or journalists). For instance, they discovered that there were forty different shell companies sending out the letters, all under the control of MPHJ.

Giddyup.  Forty different shell companies?  What’re you trying to do, MPHJ, compete with Intellectual Ventures?  You’ve got a long, long, long, long, long  way to go, but I admire your efforts so far.

The thing is, the actual merits of the case (they’re going for violation of consumer protection laws) don’t really matter.  What really matters is that Vermont is bringing the party to the trolls, going on the offense.   And they’re doing it on two fronts:  this lawsuit as well as a new bill that, if made law, will allow for penalties for “bad faith” lawsuits.  Like that doesn’t cover 99.9% of all patent litigation, am I right?

Joining the ranks of the Braveheart guy, Vermont is tackling this issue head on.  Which of course makes them a de facto Patent Superhero:

Superheroes

This one I can claim. Totally photoshopped this bad boy.

Awwwww  yeah, baby!!!

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Breaking News Out Of Fort Wayne, Indiana

If ever there were a series of words that no one in their right mind would ever think to string together, the title of this post is it.  Yet?  It be true.

Thanks to the power of WordPress’s front page that somehow manages to feed me patent troll stories that actually matter to me (how is no one else able to do this, Google?) I stumbled upon this little gem here from Mr. Brian Francisco at The Journal Gazette (www.journalgazette.net, say that 10 times fast for some fun.)

Evidently, the trolls are going after companies who put in and support networks responsible for the 911 system:

Mark Grady, founder and president of INdigital Telecom, said Wednesday that “the inappropriate assertion of poor-quality overly broad patents” threatens 911 networks provided by his company and others.

Love how he put that:  “inappropriate assertion of poor-quality overly broad patents”.  He must be part British because that’s exactly the type of understated language they use.  “Oh, Bother!  It seems as though we’ve been sent a notice of legal action, wherein we are assumed to be infringing on someone else’s intellectual property.  Let’s ring up the barrister and see if he’s got a spot of time to discuss…”

grady

Mr. Grady testifying.
Image via NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association

No matter how you put it, it appears the troll infestation has reached the low point of going after those who provide services that help ensure our very safety.  Niiice.  Thankfully, I’ve never had to avail myself of the services of 911, though I did have to call an emergency vet once when my dog ate a dead bird and I was sure he’d have Avian Flu within the hour.  (They laughed at me and told me I was being ridiculous, so thanks for that, Emergency Vet People.)  But how can they continue to innovate and find better ways to better serve the public if they’re fighting off trolls?

“It is simply unfair to burden small businesses like ours with patent allegations that are no more substantive than a TV commercial,” Grady said.

“No more substantive than a TV commercial.”  Ouch.  I’ve compared patent trolls to a lot of things in my life, but a TV commercial?  That’s just low, man.  Love it.

He also makes a great comment about the patent system in general:

“As a small business person, an innovator, an employer and a citizen, I believe this cannot be Congress’s intent for our patent system. The patent system should not be used to put Americans’ lives and property in jeopardy by delaying their access to new and innovative 911 public safety and homeland security services.”

Well said.  I don’t believe it’s Congress’s intent either.  I think it’s an aberration, a deliberate circumvention of the spirit of the law to use poorly-written patents to go after companies via extortionistic tactics.  And I think, much like Alan Schoenbaum at Rackspace has said, that it’s going to take an army of companies and solutions to combat the problem.

There are more and more solution opportunities out there, and eventually, we’re going to win the battle as more and more Mr. Grady’s stand up and demand action.

Go get ’em!

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Rackspace Is The Patent World’s Braveheart Guy

As a matter of fact, I am a Rackspace fangirl, why do you ask?  And also, I know that the movie Braveheart was about William Wallace, but if I say that “Rackspace Is The Patent World’s William Wallace”, are as many people going to get that?  My guess was no, so “Braveheart Guy” it is.  Onward, then!

It just keeps getting better and better.  SO much to like about this blog post from Alan Schoenbaum.

As patent settlements go, that is very cheap. We also believe it is completely unacceptable.

Right and super right.  Completely unacceptable is the phrase everyone needs to stand behind.  I use it a lot with the kids and they know whatever it is they just did isn’t gonna fly.  You have to meet these trolls where they live:  in their adolescence.

When it comes to fighting this particular troll, we believe an IPR is our best option to have this patent abolished at its source – eliminate the root, destroy the weed.

Image courtesy of the Braveheart movie people.  I didn't take it, am not claiming to have.

Image courtesy of the Braveheart movie people. I didn’t take it, am not claiming to have.

Bolded line?  Best.rally.cry.ever.  Begs to be immortalized on a t-shirt.  Someone with creative t-shirt making skills should get on that toot sweet.  That person is not me.

But this, this final closing salvo, is the most brilliant of all:

IPRs [Inter Partes Review] can be risky and costly. We know this IPR will cost us more than the $75,000 that Rotatable wanted to extort from us. But we are not just fighting for us; we are fighting for all the app developers who are also in the line of fire. As the noted software engineer and blogger Joel Spolsky wrote, “Life is a bit hard sometimes, and sometimes you have to step up and fight fights that you never signed up for.”

This is what I’m talking about.  Someone has to lead the charge and say enough is enough. It takes exposure, Rackspace airing their grievances in a public forum, dollar amounts and all, to make it happen.  If more companies being hit by these trolls would do as much, the whole troll ecosystem would disintegrate.  Businesses would once again have safe passage over the technological bridges needed to really innovate!

That they’re willing to take one for the whole team is also just what the doctor ordered.

Sic ’em, Alan.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Rackspace Sues Parallel Iron/IP Nav; Also, Peter Piper Was Not Forthcoming

In patents, as in comedy, timing is everything.  How serendipitous to receive news of a certain lawsuit a day after examining a black hat PAE who claims to be sporting a hat of a different hue.  Lovely.

My second most favorite thing in the world behind sticking my hand in the bag of chocolate chips only to find the people I live with have eaten all but two of them, which is totally not enough chocolate to satisfy anyone on the planet, never mind yours truly,  is when I ask someone a question (usually it’s my oldest son, but we’ll leave the parallels between the behavior of 12-yr-old boys and patent trolls to the reader’s imagination) and they reply with everything but an actual answer to my question.  Ah, good times.

And so that very thing has thusforth and somesuch (you didn’t know I could speak lawyer, did you?) occurred right there in the comments to yesterday’s post.  Fear not, for that shall surely get addressed, but not before discussing the bigger thing that is now afoot.

Rackspace (holla!!) has sued Parallel Iron, a shell company for none other than IP Nav.  {Pretends to pick jaw up off the  floor in mock surprise at that little shell company revelation there.}

Remember this quote?

We are NOT a “non-practicing entity” (NPE) in that we do not take title to patents, although in some cases we will assist clients in selling their patents to an NPE.

Hold on a sec while I step out to get out my PTT™ (Patent Troll Translator).  Ah, there it is:

We ARE a “non-practicing entity” (NPE) because, while we don’t always take title to the patents we intend to nefariously wield against industry, we have absolutely no problem farming them out to other people who will sue the pants off of you.  Because, you know, being one step removed from the process makes it alllll better.

I love the Rackspace folks because they don’t roll over and play dead.  As I’ve advocated countless times, the only way to beat these guys is to fight them every single time.  I meant that to mean defensively, as in when the trolls come after you.  But Schoenbaum et al are taking it to a whole new level of awesome by approaching the net and going on the offensive.

I, for one, hope they ram a shot right down the center of the court so fast it makes these guys’ heads spin.

Just sayin’,

IPTT