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The art of taking down patent trolls (techdirt.com)
140 points by thelastkek 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 14 comments



I love this. I loved it when Newegg did it and it warms my heart that Cloudflare is doing this.

I also checked and Newegg still sells the "Don't settle: Settling feeds the trolls" shirt: https://www.newegg.com/p/N82E16800996219


Patents should be abolished period. For the benefits of the free market to actually go to consumers, the government should not be creating artificial monopolies and barriers to trade.

Every new idea is only a very tiny extension of the vast corpus of human knowledge that came before it. To claim ownership of an idea is obscene, especially since even very complex ideas like calculus usually occur to many people at the same time.

Execution is what matters, ideas are worthless by themselves.


>Execution is what matters, ideas are worthless by themselves.

Which is why patents are so critical to innovation. When done correctly, patents spur innovation that otherwise wouldn't happen. Why take a risk capitalizing on a new idea, figuring out all the ins and outs of it to then have someone swoop in and just clone all that work?

Do patents get abused? yup. Is that good? Nope. Does it mean we just throw the patent system out? Absolutely not! It means we fix the obvious holes in it and close some of the perverse incentives off.

Look at it this way - the US Constitution is a pretty short document for what it is - and there is a whole section on patents in there. Pretty high priority for the founding fathers.

A good overview of Federalist 43 and Madison's view on patents: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2389728



The main problem seems to be how expensive the litigation is, not the patent trolls themselves, the trolls are just a symptom. I wonder if we are going to see any improvements in this area.


In this particular case it seems to be cheap for the trolls. It is the asymmetry that seems to be the issue i.e. cheap to attack but expensive to defend.

The problem with fixing that is you lots of little people will be dissuaded from filing in genuine cases.

It seems the real problem is that it is just as easy to file a frivolous case as a real one, but that is a general problem with life (which models are the right ones, which theories will bear fruit, which investment strategies will make money etc)


> It is the asymmetry that seems to be the issue i.e. cheap to attack but expensive to defend.

Same problem with DMCA takedowns.


Looser pays. Shifts the incentives pretty quick.

Lawyers hate it - gee, I wonder why.


No, the main problem is these trolls have a realistic chance of winning a suit over these ridiculous patents.


I'm as down as the next person on organizations like Sable Networks but honestly it's like being mad at rattlesnake that bites you if you step on it. They have a sleazy nature and they're being true to it.

My real ire is towards Cisco and Juniper. They had the money to litigate the claims and decided to pay up. I cannot help but think that this was solely done to add fixed costs to any competitor.


Yes, Cisco and Juniper are financing an entity that creates "fixed costs" that are easier for bigger companies to bear. They can argue that it was cheaper to pay, but that's only half the picture. They help create an environment that's harder on upstarts.

Cloudflare still has some upstart culture: they get offended and lash out, which not only keeps trolls away but it's good for their brand too.

I wouldn't characterize the likes of Sable as rattlesnake though. They're parasitic. If you don't pick off leeches, more and more of them will come to suck.


Victim blaming is no better when it is done to a patent troll victim than to a rape victim. Change the laws to put pressure on the trolls. Or better yet, just outlaw patents altogether.


Bean counters and risk management.

When you have a small risk of losing billions and a fixed, small price for settle the risk, you will decide to whatever is smaller.

No one, inside Cisco/Juniper/ whatever will ever be confronted why he chose to minimize risks. And this also applies to buying some gartner recommendation, doing business with IBM or Microsoft etc. Being on the safe side helps you have a long path in the company road.


> ... Cisco and Juniper ... add fixed costs to any competitor.

Brilliant observation that -- recalled for me reading long ago in a business journal that industrial giants sometimes offer no objection to heavier government regulation, because the relative disadvantage to smaller competitors can make it a net win for themselves.




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