Not to cross the line by slandering them, but just shining a light on them -- shaming them, basically.
I'm sure plenty don't and won't care, but I wonder whether it might make a dent. Maybe that inventor who figured "sure, why not - free money from my patent" might have a different feeling if the whole world knows what they're up to and doing so damages their reputation.
"The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them, closing a perceived loophole that allowed someone who told a man to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because he did not actually commit the crime personally."
For example in the case that a corporation commits the covered crimes, such as extortion, the individuals driving the actions are subject to RICO prosecution.
The penalties are brutal, it's fantastic for trolls:
And, regretfully, it's likely the reason why RICO won't be applied against patent trolls.
For now, a public wiki like system to which anyone could submit claims made against them for patent infringements in order to find others in the same situation, in order to join forces, would be great.
I see nothing inherently wrong with being a patent "troll". The idea behind patents is to provide financial incentives to innovation. A little guy with a legitimate patent may have difficulty convincing large corporations to pay a license fee. One way for such a person to reap that benefit is to sell the patent to a holding company that does the work of monetizing the patent. Or to seek settlements and avoid long legal battles that he or she may not have the resources to endure. Patent "trolls" are just the market at work, and that is normally a good thing.
The problem is, the high cost of litigation makes it a very easy system to abuse. That high cost imbues patents with a substantial value regardless of their merit. It's very easy to disagree about whether a patent applies in a particular situation, or is even valid generally, but very costly to resolve such disagreements.
Unfortunately, you can't just shift the cost burden to the trolls, because then you also have to stick the little guy with the cost of sueing a giant multinational corporation for any wrongdoing. It's hard enough as is. It may seem easy to tell the difference between those situations, but it's difficult to encode those ideas in laws that apply universally. Other solutions tend to have similar problems. This RICO thing could potentially affect future class action suits against Big Evil.
My point, I guess, is this: the real problem isn't the "trolls" but the high cost of justice. Short of eliminating patents, to attack the problem from any direction other than the cost of justice tends to turn it into the same sort of thing as pornographers and free speech. You can't easily attack patent trolls or pornographers without damaging other users of the courts or of free speech.
I think the key distinction is that "legitimate patent" would seem to have a different definition for the USPTO than it does for the technology industry.
For example USPTO considers sending a scan to an e-mail a legitimate patent, while I would venture to guess the tech world does not: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/04/meet-the-nice-guy...
So yes, some of these are so broad and obviously just there to make a buck - like the swipe option.
The idea of a patent was to ensure that the creator who had spent considerable time, energy and money creating the invention was ensured that for some period he could benefit from that. Being the first person to patent something which is simple and often thought up does not in my opinion meet that threshold.
Its simple, why can't we just tell HP or Canon we would get sued if we used their printers. So we won't.
HP or Canon has much to lose here. And its very obvious a big part of business is under a threat because of these stupid games. They would definitely take on the troll themselves.
Eliminate all patents if need be.
The intention behind patents is clearly a good idea. Who can argue with fostering innovation in a way that requires open publication? (Open source your idea, receive profits!) If anything, software patents are even more important than other kinds, in this age of the cloud and web services where there are no physical artifacts that can be taken apart and studied. We can take apart a cotton gin, but we can't see Google's source code. At least we get the PageRank patent.
There is less need in software for the monopoly benefit, and more need for open publication requirement. That's what makes software patents different than other kinds.
The same is hardly true with software and many other technologies. By the time the patent expires, the described technology is frequently obvious and offers little additional value.
Patents may be a good thing when applied correctly, but use of software with a vague tie to some physical hardware is not the right way to apply it, as evidenced by the these extortions.
If one actually examines how the software is being patented and the problematic linkages to hardware that make it patentable, the entire argument falls apart in my eyes.
"For computer implemented processes, the “machine” is often disclosed as a general purpose computer. In these cases, the general purpose computer may be sufficiently “particular” when programmed to perform the process steps. Such programming creates a new machine because a general purpose computer, in effect, becomes a special purpose computer once it is programmed to perform particular functions pursuant to instructions from program software." 
In other words, the only thing that separates software from a business methods, which enjoy much less protection, is the fact that instead of a human performing the tasks, a general computer is performing the tasks.
If you consider a software program is nothing more than a collection of instructions, it then can be considered similar in nature to a operator's manual given to a worker processing something.
1. Most software can be reverse engineered through observation, without disassembly.
2. A sizable chunk of software innovation is already publicly documented in the form of research papers.
This is a shortcoming of the justice system.
> A little guy with a legitimate patent may have difficulty convincing large corporations to pay a license fee.
Isn't this also a shortcoming of the justice system, partially if not entirely?
I'm getting flashbacks to that "The Oatmeal" incident and, in a less extreme way, Jack Thompson. These people sound positively mental. Is there a term for when lawyers meltdown like this?
If not ... are they drafting for the DSM-6 already? :)
Less flippantly I think that there may be a pretty strong correlation between these behaviors and personality disorders, but bullying and animal threat display behaviors are still relevant models. It's potentially a big mistake to confuse one of these people who is panicking and trying to use intimidation as a response with someone who has slipped into a state of irrational anger & obsession. The former can be dissuaded or possibly negotiated with, the latter is more likely to just keep escalating. In particular I'd presume that the latter are more likely to actually file the frivolous lawsuits and it's a higher priority to get everything locked down on the legal front. Generally a good idea anyway.
Without a time constraint people end up gathering information, and getting over the psychological shock that clouds judgement.
A somewhat similar concept (not related to this) is the idea that "time kills all deals". The more time goes on the less likely a deal will occur.
EDIT: This was found on reddit from 2yrs ago,
"So, Shapiro and Mintz (whom I'm still trying to track down) have some other patents with associated LLCs, all colocated with Hillcrest: System and method for authenticating and registering personal background data, assigned to VeriVita; and System and method for facilitating bilateral and multilateral decision-making, assigned to DecisionSorter LLC. There are also some patent applications, which haven't been granted and therefore don't have assignees yet. See this google search.
With another partner, Shapiro also has Apparatus and method for authenticated multi-user personal information database assigned to Gold Standard Technologies, again colocated with Hillcrest. Given that she's an MBA, and seems to collect patents and LLCs, I'm thinking "IP entrepreneur"/patent troll."
The bad news is these huge, institutional patent troll companies will be influencing legislation via "contributions" which is hard to overcome. There's billions at stake here.
This one doesn't even introduce the patent troll (Lumen View), but just mentions their name with no introduction, as if everybody will know who they are and that they're the patent troll.
Ars used to be really good, it's unfortunate their writing quality is getting so bad.
Lumen View is owned, at least in part, by Eileen Shapiro, a Boston
executive who works at a company called the Hillcrest Group. She
has a co-inventor named Steven Mintz, who FindTheView also believes
is involved with the operation.
Not to mention the fact that one strategy is simply to flood the deciding party with so much information at once that the main points get lost and diluted with other issues that don't matter.
One of the reasons criminal trials take so long. If you were a defense attorney and had a jury wouldn't you try to string out the trial as long as possible to numb the jury so that the main points against your client were buried with a bunch of less relevant data?
(Similar to a kid getting into a dispute with a sibling where the parent gets so frustrated they don't even want to decide the issue they just punished both parties?)
It's not clear to me where the case mentioned here was actually filed. I can't find it on PACER. Anyone?
It would be interesting to make a site isettled.com where people could leak that a company had settled to trolls. The idea being that you'd have to weigh the cost of fighting the troll against the risk of bringing a flood of secondary trolls. If the secrecy was removed it would start to make business sense to fight
An important information from the "confidential" studies here for example would be what kind of monitors were tested.
And also on the topic, piss enough people off eventually you'll find one of us willing to throw business "logic" out the window n fight back.
I gues this is how it should work in any modern country with working juridical system. Unfortunately it seems to me (note that i'm not from USA) that in U.S., justice is available only to the rich and/or powerfull.
From the article: "Perhaps not coincidentally, $50,000 is just about what it costs to hire a lawyer and file the initial set of paperwork to defend a patent case"
Money and power can't change facts, and if the infringement accusation is as thin as the article says it is, there is no way a court could find infringement. and as far as the money, that's what rule 11 sanctions are for.
I just don't see anything interesting here, assuming its all as egregious as the article says. now, if its a closer case, then why get all upset? you are infringing someone patent! part them!
I cited from the article that $50000 is required to hire lawyer and fill the required paperwork to defend the case.
As i said i'm not from U.S. so i don't know if it is actualy true.
I could probably give you another example... if i'm not mistaken there is very high rate of cases in U.S. which end with some kind of settlement without ever getting to the trial. Often fears of financial expenses play a big role in those settlements which seems hardly fair to me.