Yeah, obviously they don't want to be involved in a bunch of frivolous lawsuits....
the reason for the discrepancy between emotion and logic reported by the person you're talking to (and more or less anyone who's not incredibly autistic) is because emotional responses tend to be connected to the first (fast, unreliable) mechanism which picks up on things like apparent injustice (but ignores, for example, calculations based on supply and demand).
so it's quite normal to feel something that is at odds with what you would logically expect.
At least some of those defendants ended up settling and paying off that particular troll by the way. Petmeds is a public company and mentioned that in one of its 10K filings.
ps. my understanding is that many/most trolls demand non-disclosures from companies they settle with, which would explain why you don't hear more from the victim companies getting mugged by these crooks.
I suppose whether such a company would fly hinges on whether or not there are lawyers willing to work for ordinary salaries. The interesting thing here is that if this company is technologically savvy then I'd imagine that a great deal of the litigation effort could be automated, again yielding good cost savings.
As a programmer and a concerned citizen I would jump at the chance to start and/or work for a company like this.
I think you still need changes in the law to make it easier to distinguish meritorious from unmeritorious litigation. Getting rid of things like the presumption of validity, raising the bar for novelty and obviousness, etc, would all make it easier to handle each case cheaply.
That was my initial thought, too, although I was thinking more like 80k. At that rate you could attract idealistic, smart lawyers. At 35k you're attracting desperate lawyers.
Also, the place to setup shop would be SF proper. That is where the customers are, and for any business, especially one like this, customers are most important. That said, from what I've read the trolls do a lot of business out of East Texas, so that would make sense too.
The interesting thing about this business is that it's intended to be a stopgap measure until the law changes. That is, if it is very successful it will go away. Also, to avoid becoming the enemy (from what I've read IV sells "patent insurance" - basically protection money against IV) I'd make it as transparent as allowed by statute, and a non-profit.
Much of your value add is going to be in streamlining the process: developing tools and processes to minimize the time it takes to handle a particular suit, and aggregating knowledge about particular patents and particular trolls to amortize the cost of dealing with them over multiple clients. At the end of the day you need a licensed lawyer to sign off on any filings, but everything else can be automated.
- clients are all over, not just SF. Like I said all it takes is just a simple online store for the trolls to come after you, i.e. it's not just software developers getting sued. It's also their clients.
- don't hold your breath about the law changing. The goal here should really be invalidating software patents lock, stock, and barrel - that's not something likely to happen anytime soon.
- the non-profit idea is a good one. If enough companies contributed 1% of revenue/profit/funds raised to an effort like this one, it could probably get going... I personally wish I had the time to organize something like this.
I think you're overestimating how much companies spend on patent litigation. People have been throwing around the number $100 million for how much Apple spent on patent litigation in 2011. That's 0.1% of their 2011 revenues. At a typical Fortune 1000-ish company, total spending on outside counsel (which includes not just litigation, but transactional advice, tax advice, etc) is on the order of 0.2% of revenues.
Here are the benefits as I see when the troll come-a-calling:
- For those with the insurance: "Yay, we now have some breathing room, since we're lawyered-up, and most of it is paid for."
- For those with out the insurance. They'd still want to hire the "Anti-troll LLC" company for the litigation, since the trolls wouldn't know if the insurance policy was in effect, and would have to assume that they have a real fight on their hands.
- If "Anit-troll LLC" was popular enough, it would also seem to be a partial end-run around the NDA thing, since the same law firm is involved, and the same lawyers are involved in multiple cases.
This statement is telling because it is contrary to the basic principles of the patent system. Patents are intended to disclose inventions; to provide an alternative to secrecy that allows mutually beneficial cooperation between competitors. Intellectual Ventures has abandoned all pretense of using patent law as it was intended.
The patent absurdity of that idea, shows how badly broken the system is. Still, IV prefers to pretend that the system is indeed working like that.
Finding suitable entrepreneurs to take great ideas covered by someone else's patents forward is not how IV makes money. (Nor is it usually how great ideas reach the market. Theoretically of course it sounds great.) Rather, IV threatens successful businesses with lawsuits based on allegations of infringement of patents IV controls - low quality patents that would likely be partially or wholly invalidated were they to be re-examined or challenged in court. The targets of IV's threats are faced with the option of either challenging the patents (made more difficult through aggregation and extensive use of shell companies) or paying fees. The latter is less expensive, so they pay the fees.
Not only will they lose the case, but 'abuse of the legal system' is grounds for disbarment in most states.
If Intellectual Ventures was actually interested in performing a service for the industry they would publish all sorts of information about all their patents in their portfolio (starting with which patents they control), so that potential licensees could actually collect and license valuable ideas. But of course it's much more profitable to make patents as confusing, opaque, vague, and secret as possible, then wait for someone to unknowingly infringe and sue them a couple of years after it's too late to stop infringing.
Patent: Protection from competition for a limited time, in exchange for disclosing the methods of the invention.
Trade secret: Keep things on lock, and make money on it until someone else figures it out for themselves.
This is why things like "pinch zoom" and about 5m other shitty patents are so absurd: There's very little "novel" about most software patents. And these people are making really broad claims, and doing nothing with them, for the sake of litigation. It's a mockery of the intention of the office.
He admits patent quality is poor and then at the same time wants you to pay to license IV's low quality patents. He's afraid of DJ's and reexams. Gee, I wonder why.
Maybe it's because many of IV's patents would never survive the scrutiny (that they should have gotten by the USPTO during prosecution).
Have you ever paid repeatedly for some thing only to find out later you did not have to? How did that make you feel? DJ's and reexams might save the present and future licensees of IV's patents a lot of money.
Does North Korea say where it's nuclear silos are located?
I find it a little insulting, at least the other trolls are pretty straightforward about it and don't try to pretend they're coming up with inventions or advancing science.
Those guys declare what they did after the fact though to put things into the open, which I don't think IV does.
In fact, IV attempts to have the records sealed and, if they settle out of court, they require the settling company to sign an NDA so as to ensure that there's no record at all.
The assertion that we would not have a vibrant economy without intellectual property is historically and factually false.
But of course, the response from any defender of non-sensical and arbitrary government intervention is: Not the "right" regulations at the "right" time.
You're confused. The two sentences above have no common ground. Reading a book is not theft, but falsely claiming ownership of a book's content certainly is theft.
As a some-time composer / musician, I like to play around with existing themes and thus create new themes. Many of history's greatest musical pieces reference other pieces (J.S. Bach referenced traditional church pieces, Mussorgsky referenced many traditional folk songs, the list is probably endless), indeed the vast majority of popular music rarely strays from a handful of progressions around a limited palette of chords. Imagine if someone had managed to patent the 12 bar blues early on... No blues explosion, no Rock & Roll, no Elvis, no Beatles, etc. etc.
The argument that patents are for protecting original ideas is becoming more specious with time. It seems that the primary reason many companies now apply for patents is to either protect themselves from future patent cases, or, as is the case with IV, to prosecute any company or individual who tries to bring a similar idea to market.
Yes, but being inspired to write a similar book is now a grey area.
Second, it assumes that the USPTO's search actually works well (it does not).
A worthwhile counterattack would either need to fix the patent system (hard) or go after the IV stakeholders personally in a way that would make the risks of their endeavor far outweigh any potential benefits (unlikely).
Thus, a loss in court means the patent is worthless, and so it's no loss if the shell company has to give it away.
I think they're more worried about the situation where, if they were to sue directly and lose, they would have actual assets for a wronged party to pursue.
IV is the symptom. The disease is the current implementation of patent law. I'm not claiming that they are guiltless. But they are filling a space created by the "regulated" market.
Don't pretend that we are arguing about anything more than the merits of particular kinds of regulations. It's intellectually lazy.
That said, I personally do not think software patents have a place in either what is conventionally called a free market or in a well-regulated market.
Regardless of your personal feelings, when someone advocates a regulation-free environment, they mean one with those minimal market regulations. This is understood in any conventional( * ), practical discussion as well as most philosophical, legal and economic debates. If all parties understand this, and would prefer to use shorthand in order to quickly arrive at the heart of a particular matter, then I question whether it can be considered dishonest.
* By conventional, I mean to exclude, for example, a discussion between two anarchists -- I mean a mainstream discussion taking place in Western civilization.
Edit: I need to clarify that while this is all understood, it may be forgotten by someone in any particular moment. However, if reminded they will likely have no objection. This is what I meant when referring to people who forget in my earlier post.
No, they aren't. They're a voluntary choice by the parties to reap the benefits of specialization and trade instead of trying to kill each other and take each other's stuff. People make that choice because they understand that they are much better off with specialization and trade; for one thing, we wouldn't be having this conversation in this medium if humans had never got beyond the "kill what I can and take what I can" stage. The regulations and legal niceties come later.
It's true that you don't consent to the regime at birth; but you do consent to it once you're an adult and making your own living, since that means you have chosen not to pursue the alternative I described above. Sure, the choice is a no-brainer (at least for almost everyone), but that doesn't mean it isn't a choice.
If your point is that the property rights regime is the only one on offer, that's not true either; just move to, say, Somalia.
In short: something can be a regulation and still be voluntary. Speeding laws are regulations, but lots of people choose to violate them.
If someone is holding a gun to your head as they escort you off their property, yes, they are compelling you to respect their property rights by force. But if someone puts up a "no trespassing sign", and they are not home, and you choose to walk across their lawn despite the sign, how is that not a voluntary choice to not respect their property rights?
You have a choice in the case of the gun toting property owner as well. The choice is to leave, or be risk being shot and killed. As you say, not all choices are between equally desirable outcomes...
It conveys the property owner's intent regardless of whether there are any laws to back it up. If you choose to disregard the owner's intent, you are disregarding his property rights, whether or not the law makes that illegal. Using signs, fences, and other boundary markers to delimit property is logically prior to any laws about property rights, and those boundary markers can succeed in defining property rights even if there are no laws to enforce them.
If you know your neighbor doesn't want you to walk on his lawn, and has a sign up conveying that intent, is the law the only thing that can keep you from disregarding his intent? If you know that the goods inside the corner grocery store, whose owner is known and respected by everyone in town, aren't yours, and you find the door unlocked, is the law the only thing that keeps you from going in and looting the place?
People can have other reasons besides laws for defining and respecting property rights. It's easy to forget that now because our system of property rights has been evolving for thousands of years. But that doesn't change the fundamental game theory involved. The fact that many people now think that the law is the only thing that keeps them from violating others' property rights is a bug, not a feature.
A healthy marketplace relies upon a foundation of some sort. There has to be trust between producers and consumers. Regulation is a framework to create that trust.
I am certainly not against all regulation. I also feel that interference in the market does more to hurt than to help.
Places in the world now where anarchy or something similar reigns do not have more of a free market than we do.
My larger point is that patent law is part of the regulation in our market that is not being implemented effectively.
I don't disagree with that at all. But that should be the argument: "this regulation is helping more than it is hurting" not "this regulation is bad because regulation is bad."
Hypothetically, if a legal firm is engaging in clearly predatory behavior, can a point be reached at which it is morally justifiable to retaliate against said firm in an extralegal manner? Perhaps law firms that walk the line of ethical behavior but are clearly behaving immorally by any reasonable standard present a sort of edge case. Usually, a moral person should settle his disputes in a civilized manner by going through the proper legal channels. However, if a moral person is being abused by a law firm that is capable of outmaneuvering him in all or almost all legal proceedings, what recourse does that person have? A good analogy is a battered wife who is reasonably certain that going to the police will result in her husband murdering her. In such cases, courts have ruled that a wife may initiate force against her husband and yet be acting in self-defense.
Another analogy is the idea that it's possible for the US government to become so corrupt and/or abusive that revolution becomes justified. If the people of the US were ever to attempt a revolution, however, they would certainly be labeled terrorists by the US government, and their actions would be considered treasonous. Nevertheless, there is a point at which revolution is theoretically justifiable, despite being treasonous. That point is when it becomes impossible to participate in the political process. The actions of an oppressive government amount to legal abuse, much like the actions of a predatory law firm.
I'm not trying to rile anyone up here, but all I see are comments that come off as totally defeatist. We tell our kids to use their words, but no one can be bullied forever. Eventually, something's gotta give.
They were creating so many shell companies that they were using names from places / people from the Star Wars universe. They even had a "death star" technique IIRC.
I wonder what "theme" is IV using to name all their shell companies.