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United States Government Patents

Patent Trolls Getting the Attention of the Feds 92

crazyvas writes "The New York Times has published an article on the FTC's plans to investigate the patent system, and likely patent trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. From the article: 'To its defenders, Intellectual Ventures is a revolutionary company unfairly viewed, in the words of its co-founder Peter N. Detkin, "as the poster child of everything that is wrong with the patent system." To its critics, it is a protection racket otherwise known as a patent troll. This summer, the Federal Trade Commission is expected to begin a sweeping investigation of the patent system after the agency's chairwoman, Edith Ramirez, urged a crackdown. She has singled out a particular kind of miscreant, one that engages in "a variety of aggressive litigation tactics," including hiding behind shell companies when it sues.'"
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Patent Trolls Getting the Attention of the Feds

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @08:28PM (#44313575)

    They should invent a rule that requires you to file your patent lawsuit in the county the business has its headquarters located in.

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @08:30PM (#44313593) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like this may trigger legislation. When legislation is written, big corporations frequently have at least a virtual seat at the table, "helping" to get it written.

    The true fear hear is that any sort of reform to solve the problems of patent trolls will tend to favor those big corporations in ordinary matters. The problem is the new person or company with something new and disruptive to the existing market. Though it's a little painful, in the longer run it's for the better when the market gets disrupted this way, because new opportunities emerge in the process. If the "reforms" give big corporations more power to "manage" the disruption, preserving their own markets and business models, we all lose. (The disruption will happen anyway, outside the US.)

  • In other words... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @08:31PM (#44313595)

    Enough people who own congress are getting pissed off.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @08:56PM (#44313767) Journal
    Hopefully they'll come up with some sensible changes that will address 96% of the problem.
    All too often, a headline grabbing bad guy like Intellectual Ventures results in a demand for HUGE new laws, smashing to bits a system that needed a tune up. The Patriot Act is an example - a few words needed to be changed in the law regarding how the NSA, CIA, and FBI can and cannot share information. 9/11 was big though, so people demanded big change, and ended up with the constitution shredded.
  • Where to sue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @09:51PM (#44314071) Homepage Journal

    I think the AC was talking about making the suing company sue the business in the business's home county.

    IE let's say the patent troll wants to sue Bobcat. Given that, as best as I can tell they're incorporated in West Fargo in North Dakota, that would mean that the troll would have to sue them in West Fargo, ND not East Texas.

    It means that the patent trolls can't judge shop anywhere as well.

  • Fundamental issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @12:10AM (#44314765) Homepage

    Patenting software is not a fundamental problem. Patent trolls are not a fundamental problem. Instead, these are the results and effects of the true fundamental problem, which is that the patent system itself is patenting anything that comes along that has no obvious conflicts, if even that. It considers its duty to be simply to record the patent ... and take all the money. It's real duty is to separate truly innovative inventions from all the junk.

    If something is truly innovative, then without the inventor having done it, it is likely to not have been done at all for many years (when based to genius thought), or for a substantial investment into the work needed to come up with it (when based on a huge amount of work). The vast majority of patents are not true innovation. Most of them are just broad brushes of things they see as inevitable and coming, anyway.

    It doesn't matter if it is done in software or hardware, if it is innovative. We should reward true innovation either way.

    It doesn't matter if someone comes along and buys out the inventor of true innovation. It's just like getting a cash advance on a time payment you expect to receive.

    The real problem in the system is all the junk patents that get issued.

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Thursday July 18, 2013 @01:21AM (#44314997) Homepage Journal

    The purpose of patents, supposedly, is to help protect the garage tinkerer that comes up with a really cool idea to have exclusive rights over that invention.

    I've asked this question repeatedly on Slashdot and elsewhere, and I fail to get any sort of realistic reply:

    Do you personally know somebody (aka a close blood relative, somebody you knew in your youth and considered a "best friend", somebody who would be at your bedside in a hospital if you got into a serious accident merely by hearing you by name were hurt) who has ever earned more than the patent filing fees on any patent they've developed?

    I know personally (including my grandfather... who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in patent attorney fees over the course of many years) several people who have earned a patent, and many others who have invented some pretty interesting devices that definitely are worthy of patents. I also know of several people personally who have filed for patents due to work they've done for companies they worked for. Note: If you are an employee as an engineer, it is a standard contract that you will turn patentable inventions over to that company... often even if you come up with the idea outside of work. Certainly for stuff you invent "on the job". Some companies offer royalties on those inventions, but most companies simply assume your salary is compensation for those inventions.

    I do know some people personally who have earned money from copyrighted content (mainly books, although some movies). I don't know a single person who has even earned "pizza money" (aka a few bucks "profit" to buy a pizza or something very cheap.) above and beyond even the filing fees from patents. I also know of several very prominent people (notably Philo Farnsworth and Nikola Tesla, not to mention the Wright Brothers) who spent an insane amount of time in courtrooms trying to defend their patents, often without effect, and in the mean time these incredibly prolific inventors wasted literally decades of their life in a fruitless attempt to earn money off of ideas that "the system" said they deserved.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"