Top Five Things I Learned From The Fortune Article On RPX

I don’t usually pick up Fortune magazine because my nightstand is already covered in InStyle and Vogue and Elle on account of I’m a fashion icon in my dreams.  But I was tipped off (thank you!!) about the recent issue with this article about RPX. You and I both know that I can’t not get involved in this kind of thing, right?

Read it I did and boy oh boy oh boy, were there some nuggets in there!  To wit:

1.  John Amster plays guitar?  I did not see that coming.


Mind? Blown.

2.  People (besides me) have hated Intellectual Ventures from the very beginning.  Commerce One’s bankruptcy, as the article explains, was the catalyst for the secondary patent market in that their GC Paul Warenski said “Hey, let’s not just sell our assets as one package, lets split off the IP and sell it separately.”  Kind of a Gordon Gecko-ish move, but I mean that in a nice way because Paul was a visionary kind of asset splitter-upper, not the nasty kind.

From the get go, it seems that the most important outcome of the auction was not that the patents fetch a high price, but that the winner had better not be IV.  That’s interesting, since purportedly, they were the early RPX:  the mission was to find and buy up patents to keep them “out of the hands of hostile NPEs”.

I suspect their business model got in the way…acting as a hedge fund and being expected to fetch a high rate of return for investors meant that IV going freak nasty and litigating to get that return was a forgone conclusion.  Nathan’s idea that all he had to do was “[price] his licensing demands correctly, [and] he would never need to sue anyone” was all well and good, but then the big players got more than a little sick and tired of the demand letter game and it all went to seed.  They stopped responding or starting fighting and then as we all know, in late 2010 the chickens came home to roost and IV began filing lawsuits.

It’s just interesting to me that Myhrvold has been a nemesis for so many for so long.

3.  Nathan Myhrvold was an original partner in ThinkFire.  ThinkFire was headed by Dan McCurdy, of none other than Patent Freedom and Allied Security Trust fame.  At the time of the Commerce One auction, in which ThinkFire and IV were bidders, Nathan was in cahoots with both IV and ThinkFire, which means he was bidding against himself.  See?  Evidently, even Nathan doesn’t like Nathan! Anyway, this was news to me, despite the quote in the article that it was “a spectacle the press gleefully highlighted.”  You can be rest assured of my gleefulness as I now re-highlight this information.

4.  The idea of idea theft is no longer relevant to John Amster, as evidenced by this quote from the article:

In Amster’s world, patent suits against tech companies no longer turn on quaint moral issues like, “Did Company X steal from Inventor Y”  For the most part, they don’t even turn on legal issues like, Is patent Z valid, and if so, is it infringed by Company X’s product?

What counts today are probabilities, statistics, and most of all, transaction costs.

I guess then that RPX’s business model is less “if you subscribe, we’ll invest your funds in buying patents that the trolls will use against you” than it is “statistically speaking, our data that we collected and collated ourselves shows that you will be hit by a patent troll unless you pay us a yearly fee, after which point we will protect you from an unspecified number of those suits and save you an amount of money that we arrived at using our own data.”


5.  RPX divests it’s portfolios to trolls from time to time.  Which, I guess if you realize that they are “friends with them” and “take them to dinner”, it’d be like me selling my stroller to my newly pregnant friend after my kids are older. I mean, it’s not as if RPX thinks those patents aren’t troll-worthy or they wouldn’t have bought them in the first place.  It looks like they’re buying patents off the open market to snag new clients by telling them “Look!  We hath thwarted the Evil Empire and if you sign up, you shall not be subject to suit by this portfolio!”  And when that usefulness has been outlived and they’ve gotten a few years’ worth of subscription fees, they sell them back out to the open market.  And then use the fact that those patents are now once again at play to bring in more new clients.   Cue merry-go-round.


For the first time in a long time, this was an article that didn’t just restate the by now obvious facts about what patent trolls are.  And they didn’t touch lightly on the RPX business model either; I was kind of surprised at the tone they took and wondered if Amster’s camp was happy with the final print version of the article.

I think the original strategy of RPX, to get patents that the trolls could use off the market, was and is a good one.  I’ve praised them as one of the market-based solutions to patent trolling, something that was started by people who had a desire to stop bad behavior.  The only problem is that if they “solve” the troll problem, why does anyone need them?

Maybe that’s what they’re figuring out, and why the divestitures now (occasionally) involve re-selling back to trolls?

All I know is, whenever I read about RPX in the future, I’m going to picture a guy on a sofa with a vintage guitar.



{John Amster image found here. Guitar image found here. Russell Brand mind blown found here.}

Cory Doctorow Is Spot On, Even If You’ve Never Heard Of Him

Probably everyone else has heard of Cory Doctorow, but I hadn’t until I came across a piece that was so brilliant (in large part because he agrees with me, of course) that I had to read it several times and then find a copy of the movie so I could watch it.  His article is about The Magnificent Seven business model and how it applies to patent trolls (and copyright trolls too, but we’ll leave those to Ali.)


Got you in our sights, trolls.

I’ve banged the drum loudly for almost three years now that one surefire way to beat the trolls is to use collective action, preferably prior to litigation.  There are a number of offerings that help once you’ve been sued (IP litigation insurance, RPX’s Collaborative Defense™), but by then the money’s already flowing in the wrong direction, which is to say out of your bank account and into to some attorney’s.  A little too late in the game if you ask me.

That’s one reason I and others have put up tools to collect patent demand letters.  As Cory states in his article:

Since the victims are spread out and don’t know each other, it’s hard to fight back together.

That’s what the trolls count on.  But what if there was a place to input information about which trolls are asking for how much regarding which patents before they actually sue?  Hello?  We have that here (MINE!) and here (THEIRS!).  Cory’s exactly right when he says:

the relatively small profits from being a jerk are concentrated, the much larger effects are diffused, which means that the jerks can afford better lawyers and lobbyists than any one of their victims.

But what if those victims got together?  What if they created a fund for defense, like I suggested in this prior blog post:

In other words, if that’s too subtle for you, why don’t you guys do the same thing?  Coordinate a response.  It looks like some of you did in this case by filing an amicus  brief or two, but seriously?  That all you got?

Open up your wallets, find a bank somewhere (I know!  I know!  Make it Switzerland, since you’re already there!), get an account, and FUND A MASS DEFENSE.  The only thing evil people understand are lawyers, guns, and money.  You have two out of the three, and that ain’t bad.  In fact, it’s enough.  Get some lawyers and some money, and you won’t even need the guns.

This really, truly isn’t rocket science.

Cory’s saying the same thing, only he suggests a Kickstarter campaign.  There’s another option, Defense Mob, that is getting off the ground as well.  There’s a particular brilliance to the way he puts it that you have to read and read until you fully ingest it and let it spur you to action:

Once a troll is worried about a pushback from his victims, he’ll need to raise a war-chest, and since the only thing a troll makes is lawsuits, he’ll start sending more threats. Those threats will attract more people to the kickstarter [or other collaboration effort], raising its profile and its search-rank. The more the troll wriggles, the more stuck he becomes.

DING DING DING, we have a winner, folks.


This is exactly what demand letter registries are all about.  Getting the word out and forcing the trolls’ filthy, dirty, long-fingernailed little hands.  And actually, if users will collaborate and talk to one another about what’s going on, you may not need a war chest after all.  All you really need is information.  A collection of data that you can query and find out who else is on the trolls’ hit list.  Once you do that, you can talk to one another and then all of the victims can simply refuse to play the game.

If every person that a troll sends a demand letter to says “NO”, how’s that going to play out?  They’re going to take it to the next level and sue everyone they sent a demand letter to?  OK, they might.  But now go back and re-read Cory’s quote:

The more the troll wriggles, the more stuck he becomes.

I read this article back in November and it still excites me today because I lead a very boring life I love a good plan to take down the bad guys and I’ve advocated doing this since day one.  If I had any smarts at all I’d have tagged all the relevant posts with something like “collaboration idea” and link to them here, but alas, you’ll have to take my word for it.

You want to rid the patent landscape of bottom-feeder trolls?  Then round up your posse, seek out and find your Magnificent Seven, then take the banditos out.



{Magnificent Seven screenshot found here. Obama finger point found here.}

MythBusters: Patent (Troll) Litigation Explosion Edition

It’s always fun when something starts to get national attention after some of us (*cough* *cough*) have been banging the drum on that same issue for, oh, 12 years now.  Detractors and proponents seem to come out of the woodwork, citing studies and statistics as if any of it really means anything.  Adam Mossoff, he of the claim that there really isn’t $29 Billion in costs associated with patent trolling because how could there be, when the whole shebang is myth anyway, is at it again.  Hi Adam, long time, no blog post refuting pretty much everything you’ve said!  Hugs!

Mr. Mossoff would have us believe that the whole increase in patent troll litigation is a myth.  I was right there with him until the second sentence.  OK, ok, that’s mean.  The second paragraph, where he waxes poetic about the number of patents being issued because why? I’m not sure, and this quote doesn’t help:

A simple comparison to population growth, especially taking into account the explosive growth in the innovation industries in the past several decades, could as easily justify the claim that we haven’t got enough patents issuing today.)

Why would we compare the number of patents to the number of people?  Is there some magic number of patents per person that is right and  good for society and another number that isnt’?  I don’t get this.  I mean, yes, the number of patents would theoretically increase the number of potential patent infringement lawsuits in much the same way that number of cars on the road at rush hour increases the number of potential drivers I have to flip off honk at merge with.  But beyond that, huh?

Adam's Nirvana

An infographic of the mythical but precisely perfect mix of patents to population.

Moving along:

Unfortunately, the mythical claims about a “patent litigation explosion” have shifted in recent months (perhaps because the original assertion was untenable).  Now the assertion is that there has been an “explosion” in lawsuits brought by patent licensing companies.

Instead of just saying that patent litigation has exploded because that would be wrong, we are now hearing people say that there’s an explosion in patent litigation brought by trolls.  That feels an awful lot like a semantic red herring, but we’ll go with it for now.

This, however, is just poppycock:

’ll note for the record here that patent licensing companies are often referred to today by the undefined and nonobjective rhetorical epithet of “patent troll.”

You may claim that the terms used to negatively refer to patent licensing companies are complicated and don’t always apply across the board, or that they are at times ill-defined.  But you can’t claim that terms are undefined because hello?  I defined them.  Also, “rhetorical epithet”?  Nicely done.  Excellent wordsmithing there, 10 points in your favor!

I’m not going to cut and paste the next quote because it’s long I’m lazy but the gist of it is that with the America Invents Act, of course the number of patent litigation suits is going to go up.  Joinder clause, anyone?  We knew that, but I don’t think you can say that’s the whole reason that the numbers are higher because wait…didn’t you say the numbers weren’t higher?  That increased patent litigation is a myth?  Is that circular logic, is that why I’m getting dizzy?  “The numbers are not higher but when they are higher, it’s because of the AIA.”  Please step away from the merry-go-round, my friend.


If you didn’t play on one of these growing up, two things:
1. I hate you for being younger than me, and 2. You *totally* missed out.

The article also takes aim at “secret data” spouted by the likes of RPX and Patent Freedom, with regard to litigation statistics.  I really hope those guys are wearing their flak jackets, that’s a serious BOOM there.  I know the RPX folks are because they’re in San Francisco and OMG, how is it possible that you have to wear a fleece in July in that town?  A flak jacket is not heavyweight enough, I don’t think.  Still, he makes a valid point which is who’s funding their data collection efforts and what stake do they have in the outcome being very high?

The thing is, lawsuits are a matter of public record.  If you don’t trust the data from those sources, then go to  Lex Machina if you feel they are not funded by people with a vested interest, or commission a study of your own!  That’d work, no?  But it’s not quite fair to just shoot the messenger.

As has been discussed on this very blog in the past and right there in the Backgrounder link, it’s not a secret that the small-ish inventor in this country can have trouble monetizing their patent, especially in larger technological sectors.  Patent licensing companies do serve an unfilled need in the economy and no one I don’t think would argue that they don’t so yeah, we get that.  Likewise, we get that you don’t have to make a product to be considered a valid owner of a patent.  Over on IP Watchdog, Steve Moore makes a big “to do” about this.  Again, we get it.  And in fact, that’s one reason that the term NPE is not the same as the term Patent Troll.   All patent trolls are NPE’s, but not all NPE’s are patent trolls.

What articles like this do though, is negate that there really is a problem with companies going after business for the sole purpose of extracting licensing fees over patents that are either old and worthless or that the targets are not infringing on.  Those are the trolls we’re after, and they make up a significant portion of the increase in patent litigation in recent years.  If you believe there’s been an increase, I mean.

It’s fair to question statistics and the motives of those behind them.  It’s fair to criticize people who only want legislative relief of the problem in the form of more laws from Congress because they (incorrectly, in my view) believe that that is the only way out of the problem, or even a good way out.

But you can’t just throw the baby out with the bathwater and say that because a few statistics are misquoted or unfounded or skewed by the companies putting them out that there isn’t really a problem.  All you need to do to verify that there is is to ask the Dittos and the Farks and the TMSofts.

They’ll tell you that, increase in patent litigation or no, there IS a problem.



{Merry go round image found here:}

An Open Letter To Matt Krantz At USA Today

Dear Matt Krantz,

A few days ago, you were asked a question and I think you didn’t do the best job of answering, so I’m going  to rebut your reply here.  The question was “Is there a way to profit from patent trolls?” (Link here.)

OK first of all, this is totally not about you so no offense meant, but I take issue with the question-asker.  Although I’m no wordsmith**, the question is ambiguous as written.  Did s/he mean “Is there a way to make a profit by patent trolling, by buying sham patents and suing people over them even though you don’t contribute anything to society that actually uses that patent?”, or did s/he mean “Can I make money from a patent troll, perhaps by teaching them a trick or two, creating a viral YouTube video, and getting an appearance on the Today show?”  Because really, those are two entirely different questions.

As it turns out, it doesn’t matter which question was actually asked because the answer you provided a) isn’t even really an answer and b) doesn’t apply to either interpretation of the question.

Lets start with your definition of trolling:

For decades, companies would pour millions if not billions of dollars into research and development to create patents. These patents would often just sit around in research labs, and while companies felt they had value, they were never sure how much.

But that’s all changed as companies are waking up to the fact their patent and technology portfolios are valuable, especially if another company is infringing on them. Some companies are finding that competitors are illegally using their patented technology and are now asking them to pay royalties to keep using them.

This is not the most widely-accepted definition of patent troll, I don’t know if you knew that?  But nevertheless, I don’t think it’s so much that “companies are waking up to the fact [that] their patent and technology portfolios are valuable” so much as they are being shaken awake with a big ol’ air horn to the ears, blown by patent trolls looking to monetize anything they can get their hands on.

And then there’s this description of what Acacia Media does:

 Acacia then goes to the company it says is infringing on the patent, collects the royalty and then shares the payment with the patent owner.

What?  You make it sound like Acacia and their ilk are the resident Eagle Scout, standing  on a street corner in the old part of town awaiting sweet innocent elderly women who need a hand with their groceries as they cross the street, and then jumping in to provide all the assistance they need, taking only a portion of the change they got from their purchase as reimbursement for their kind deed.

That right there?  SO NOT WHAT PATENT TROLLS DO.  And you can’t say you didn’t think Acacia Media was a patent troll because the (albeit poorly worded) question was asking you about patent trolls and you answered with a description of Acacia Media.

Then you throw in this one-liner about the exact opposite of a patent troll:

Another company in the field is RPX, which helps companies protect themselves from patent claims.

I love that you mentioned them because they are one of the great American capitalism success stories, in that they saw a problem and are using a market-based solution to fight it.  I suppose it’s not wrong to say they are “in the field” of patent trolls, but a stronger distinction as to which side of the battle they’re on would have been nice.  They are not just there to help protect companies against patent infringement claims.  They are there to help protect companies against patent infringement claims brought on by patent trolls.

The very best part of your reply was the summary box, which I acknowledge that you may or may not have actually created because probably a cute summer intern does them for you.  But honestly, what is this?

USA Today Article

First foul?  Unnecessary single quotation marks on the words “patent trolls”.  Ten yard penalty, loss of down.

Secondly, does anyone use the term “cottage industry” these days?  (Note  correct usage of quotation marks.)

Lastly?  “…investors may want to look into it.”  Into what, patent trolling?  They already are, though you should ask Intellectual Ventures if their backers are happy with their returns…

Look Mr. Krantz, I’m not trying to be harsh, truly.  It’s just that I think you missed a great opportunity to educate, that’s all.  There are a lot of great folks out there doing a lot of great things to fight a problem that is costing this country in terms of real dollars and in lost innovation opportunities.  I may or may not be one of them.

You’re probably wishing you’d just taken the opportunity to talk by phone now, huh?


Just sayin’,


**Turns out?  I actually am a wordsmith.  Boggle says so.

Boggle…and because I’m nothing if not the most competitive person you’ll ever meet on the internet, I feel compelled to point out that that is not, by a long shot, my best score up there in the right-hand corner.  Someone who shall remain nameless (JOHN!) got a hold of my iPhone and messed with my Game Center account.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Oh He’s An Idiot Alright, But That’s Not Why

In Gene O’Quinn’s diatribe, we find this hilarity:

Mark Cuban, the flamboyant owner of the Dallas Mavericks,

Flagrant use of a derogatory adjective in a blog post:  Fifty points!

That’s one way to describe Mr. Cuban, flamboyant is.  I prefer hypocrite, but that’s just me.  One cannot claim to hate patent trolls (and evidently, all lawyers who make money in the patent industry) and be invested in one as well.  It just doesn’t…what’s the word?  Jive.  The complaints don’t make sense to me when the blog maverick himself says “Yeah, those trolls are rotten!!  But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  Just buy right into them that’ll take at least some of their patent bats out of the arsenal”  Holy Mother of God, what a bucket of stupid that is.

That’s why I think he’s an idiot.

Back to the blog post though, this is a great point:

Again, the only problem with what she says is that is it flat wrong! It is not nearly impossible to fight back. Choices are made — conscious choices — to pay extortion-like settlements of $25,000 rather than mount any kind of defense. Samuels wants the reader to believe that patent litigation defense costs many millions of dollars. That is true on average, but for those who cave and pay extortion the fees are substantially less.

I think it’s pretty well established that patent litigation defense does cost many millions of dollars so if Samuels wants the reader to believe that, she’s got a friend in me.  Gene’s right though when he says that those who pony up the coerced fees, as RPX’s chart shows, oftentimes pay less.  What I want to know though is this:  are the extortion payments as low as $25k?  I get the feeling that they are a lot more than that, on average.  Though the chart is, by their own admission, assumption-filled, I do tend to think that the average payment is minimum six figures.

So who is to blame? Aren’t those who complain about the system and say they will never settle and will fight to the death to blame for caving when they jump at that first, extortion-like settlement offer of $25,000?

I think this is spot-on part of the issue.  I have been advocating for a while now that you don’t ever settle, and that you bring the fight to the trolls.  I think it will take more than individual companies doing it though.  I think it needs to be a collaborative defense.  Once the suits are filed, it’s not like you don’t know who else got sued.  Pool your resources and force an all-out battle royale every time a troll sues.  Stamina, people!

Or, you round up the posse and meet the enemy in their own backyard.  This has to be done pre-litigation.  Find out who’s zooming who before it gets to the legal system. Then you’ve got some real leverage.

The thing is, what the patent trolls are doing is not illegal as Gene points out.  They are abusing an existing system and I think he’s right when he says that some of the judges are complicit in that they don’t do enough to toss out the most ridiculous of suits.  But the fact remains that the trolls are skirting existing laws and manipulating the system. And you think adding to that system by creating more patent laws (hello, ineffective SHIELD act) is going to help?  Haven’t these guys proven that they will worm their way around the laws, whichever ones you create?   It’s what they do.

Finally, this was something of which I was heretofore unaware:

Did you know that many of the so-called Silicon Valley elite play golf with patent trolls? Did you know that they go out to lunch and dine with patent trolls? Did you know that they are on first name basis? Many of the so-called Silicon Valley elite refer to those who they vilify in the halls of Congress as “my patent troll.” They believe that if they work together in a cordial way they will be able to get along better. Doesn’t sound like they are really all that upset about the phenomenon if you ask me, now does it?

He lost me at “play golf with patent trolls” because golf.  The only time golf was interesting was when that girl busted out her husband’s windshield with a nine iron.  That’s worth a Sunday afternoon inside to watch!  And I’m not sure you can substantiate that those kinds of back-room dealings are going on and even if they are, they are between the big players, the heavy hitters with access to lobbyists and to the daft morons congressmen and women on the hill.  The regular Joe patent troll target, the ones who are so hurt by the suits because they truly do hinder innovation by taking money out of their pockets that could be better spent bring a product to market, are not out on the green with anyone, troll or congressman.

But I’ll say this, I would really love to get me this “my patent troll” thing he speaks of.  I am imagining a little troll-doll wearing a sash that says “Patent” on it.  Someone should totally create that and sell it.  Ooh ooh, on The Shark Tank!  Mark Cuban would definitely invest in that.

Just sayin’,


Addendum: Quantifying the ‘Fight Hard’ Strategy

From our friends over at RPX (disclaimer: I consulted with them in an IT capacity a while back), we have this analysis of the Fight or Flight response to a troll:  Quantifying the Fight Hard Strategy.

This is interesting data because it sort of contradicts what I have been a huge proponent of, which is pooling resources to fight these guys.  Except not completely because this analysis assumes, among other things, an individual fight.  So, you know, no pooling necessary in that you have one company fighting one troll, one case at at time.  Indeed, it doesn’t appear that that is a cost-effective strategy when you look at their analysis.  That said, the words “only possible” give me pause in this quote:

We will assume it is only possible to establish a “fight hard” reputation by refusing to settle all or nearly all NPE litigation, so the company will take almost every case all the way through trial.

I actually think, rather, that you can establish a fight hard reputation by doing things prior to the litigation stage that don’t include settling, and that those things in fact do include consorting with other troll victims assertion-ees.  But we’ll get to that later in favor of looking at this statement:

Now compare this result if the same company took a “settle sensibly” strategy that assumes an average settlement of $1 million and $100,000 in legal costs per NPE case.

The problem I see with a “settle sensibly” strategy is that I have kids who were once three year olds.  Ever try to “settle sensibly” with a three yr old?  If you have, then you know that this very often is what happens. (Second disclaimer:  yeah, he’s mine.)  There can’t be any wiggle room, you can’t show any signs of weakness or they will take over your life.  No, you gotta set the law down straight from the minute they stamp their little feet and fold their arms over and hold their breath and possibly even stick their tongue out at you.  They have to know that when they do, their mother will take a picture of it and sell it for a profit to pay for their college education.  Mom, for the win.

Likewise with trolls, no matter how sensibly you try to approach it, when you settle with a troll it sends exactly the wrong message.  Namely, that they’re winning.  Let us not forget that the trolls don’t really want litigation any more than you do.  What they want is your money, lots of it, and they will do what they can to get it.  It’s their business strategy.  If you settle, they win.  If you go to trial and are in the EDTX, they win.  If you go to trial somewhere else and you win, they still win because they’ve dragged you to court and anyone else they’ve tried to shake down will see what it cost you and won’t want any part of that, nothankyouverymuch, so they’ll settle, and probably for a higher amount than they otherwise would have.

One could argue that with the advent of companies like RPX taking patents out of play and companies like Article One Partners who are working like a boss to invalidate patents at the prior art stage, settling will become harder for the trolls because companies might not have to fight because of the former or not go to trial at all because of the latter.

Or, as hinted at above, one could also argue that trolls might use this very “Fight Hard” strategy analysis to coerce even more companies to settle (sensibly or not), and by that of course I mean 1000% in the troll’s favor.  So there’s that possibility.

The best place to go is to the front of the line.  Stop the problem the very instant it starts.  And when is that?  At the moment you check your inbox at work (or the guy with the mail cart comes by, assuming those didn’t go the way of the horse and buggy) and you’ve been sent a Nastygram.  That right there is the tipping point and the time to take action.  I further happen believe the action that should be taken is collective.

I have a solution that will help, it’s part of the “we’ll get to that later” statement even though I know no one likes a tease.  It’s just not go time yet!

Just sayin’,


The Godfather (i.e., Nathan Mhyrvold)

Great article by Jeff John Roberts.

First up, I’d love to be the one to find the link between IV and Lodsys.  Talk about a bounty…why hasn’t someone issued one to the first intrepid reporter who can prove a link?  That’s how it’s done folks…although if I had the time and resources I’d do it just for the “I told you so” value.

Second, this sounds very Mark Cuban-ish:

Namely, before it began its suing spree, IV made sure that many of its potential critics became its investors.

Well played, IV.  And it’s exactly what people like Mark Cuban, who purports himself to be a patent expert, have decided to do.  “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”  Bah, humbug.  You’re telling me the likes of Mark Cuban can’t find a way to beat the trolls without becoming (part owner of) one?  C’mon.  You disappoint.  Someone, somewhere has to find a better business model.  Oh wait, someone already did.  The problem is, that model only covers patents that are still at play.

Someone is going to have to solve the problem of the trolls who are suing over what they own.  I say you create a non-profit collaborative defense fund.  You reach out to each and every company that is sued by the trolls, and you know that information is available via either Patent Freedom, RPX, or, if you have to strip it yourself, from the US Court dockets, and get them to pony up some money.  Pool resources and every time the trolls fight, no matter who they fight, you fight back.  Get in bed with your enemies against a common goal.  These trolls are not bottomless pits of money.  They are individual companies that are suing Deep Pockets.  Well, guess what happens when Deep Pockets joins up with another Deep Pockets?  Follow the math here…DEEPER POCKETS.  Deeper than the trolls.

That’s how you beat them at their own game.  It’s what I tell my sons when the schoolyard bully picks on them.  Knock that sucker to the ground but good.  If you can’t do it alone?  Round up your posse, as we say in Texas, and git ‘er done that way.   But whatever you do, don’t ever, ever hand over your lunch money.

Third, there’s this gem from our buddy Nate:

Myhrvold this week portrayed his patent practices as simply another form of capital allocation. In his view, the company’s trolling is a good thing because it raises money for Intellectual Venture’s experiments which will, in turn, produce more patents.

How about producing products?  Inventing something new and, oh, I dunno, useful?  Producing more patents should not be the goal here, unless all you do is sue people for infringing on them.  Oh, wait…

And finally, there’s the understatement of the year forever:

The problem, of course, is that patents are not synonymous with value and innovation.

No.  No they are not.

Just sayin’,


Band of Brothers, patent style

The most interesting thing about this development is what it means for companies like RPX and AST.  These six titans put together their own “mini patent defense aggregator” and all rogue-like, went out and bought the most sought-after portfolio on the market.

The interest in the patents is driven by an increasingly competitive industry in which patent infringement suits between tech giants are becoming commonplace and patents, as a result, are becoming more important than ever.

Patent infringement suits  between tech giants are commonplace, so when you have a defense aggregator that allows all member companies to take a license to a portfolio, not only won’t they be sued by our NPE friends, they take each other out of the mix as well. In this case, however, it’s a much smaller Band of Brothers doing the protecting from…what?  Each other?  Sure, and also The Trolls.  But will any of them bring suit against the other suitors?  Well, let’s take a look at some commentary:

Then again, because the winners include the makers of the iPhone, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, they could use the massive patent portfolio to go after Google and Android, as well as companies that hope to compete in the world of smartphones and tablets, such as Hewlett-Packard and Intel.

This will prove an even more interesting one to watch than it already has been.

Just sayin’,