Remembering TCPaul, 2016-2019

Patent Trolling

Curious if anyone here has done this. I know it's all the r adamtheengineer04/14/12
It depends on what you mean by it...the term "patent trollin kman04/15/12
stop trolling boseisaltplace12/05/17
Sounds like fraud to me. Criminal? Maybe! stephen04/15/12
Sending out 1000s of cease and desist letters is a terrible phillybum04/15/12
Scenario 1. A guy comes up with a brilliant web solution. phillybum04/15/12
Patenting software is a complete joke. The patent was on mi georgecostanza04/15/12
new methods of using old devices were always patentable. don phillybum04/15/12
Why aren't movies patented then, since they use a projector? georgecostanza04/15/12
The movies do not make a movie camera itself behave in a dif phillybum04/15/12
Because the benefit of purchasing a computer is that you can georgecostanza04/15/12
Surely, you jest. Projecting different movies does not ri phillybum04/15/12
I think we're talking about two different things. An interf georgecostanza04/15/12
"I think we're talking about two different things. An interf phillybum04/15/12
Venture capitalists are leading the charge to abolish softwa adamtheengineer04/15/12
Can you explain this comment a little more? In my view, v georgecostanza04/15/12
Sure. Usually in any space where there is a market there ar adamtheengineer04/15/12
I mostly agree with your comment. Minor points: (1) Fa legalmanager1204/15/12
Patent trolling has to be extremely profitable. Last week M lawbaron04/15/12
Microsoft buying $1 billion worth of patents from AOL has N phillybum04/15/12
Traditional patents don't mesh well with the software indust silk04/15/12
Yeah, I agree you are missing the point. Its like the patent legalmanager1204/15/12
Thought =/= granted. Can you demonstrate some patents that y phillybum04/15/12
Are you seriously requesting proof after you basically total legalmanager1204/15/12
I did not mischaracterize anything. It seems peope love to s phillybum04/16/12
You might want to read: The Trevor Law Group was a Beverl jdization04/15/12
Here's a nice list: http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Example_so ftwar silk08/24/12
I think theres a guy doing this on /dome with a domain. skankhunt4212/19/18
Ah yes, "trolling" was all the rage in IP law 5 or so years patenttrollnj12/23/18

adamtheengineer (Apr 14, 2012 - 11:58 pm)

Curious if anyone here has done this. I know it's all the rage to send out thousands of individual requests for 1k to small businesses who would rather pay than fight it out for something that had prior art in 1912.

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kman (Apr 15, 2012 - 7:46 am)

It depends on what you mean by it...the term "patent trolling" has some competing definitions. What you seem to be referring to is the most blatant, where there's not even a good faith argument that the patent is valid...but of course if you're only asking for "$1K," I assume it's only based on a provisional application...

Some try to say its also "patent trolling" simply if you have no intention of marketing the invention yourself, but I think that's an unfair definition. Sometimes you need to try to find a licensee who is in a better position to commercialize it. And sometimes you need to patent a potentially competing approach, in order to protect your own space...

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boseisaltplace (Dec 5, 2017 - 5:04 pm)

stop trolling

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stephen (Apr 15, 2012 - 11:52 am)

Sounds like fraud to me. Criminal? Maybe!

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phillybum (Apr 15, 2012 - 12:31 pm)

Sending out 1000s of cease and desist letters is a terrible way to troll patents. You open yourself up to declarotary judgment. And just one adverse ruling will kill your patent.

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phillybum (Apr 15, 2012 - 1:25 pm)

Scenario 1.

A guy comes up with a brilliant web solution. He patents it. He does not have millions of dollars needed to commercialize. Two years later Google starts practicing his invention. He sues google. Is he a troll?

Scenario 2.


A guy comes up with a brilliant web solution. He patents it. He does not have millions of dollars needed to commercialize. He needs money now to pay for cancer treatment. He sells his patent to the only company willing to buy, XYZ inc which is an NPE. Two years later Google starts practicing his invention. XYZ inc sues google. Is he a troll? Is XYZ inc a troll?

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georgecostanza (Apr 15, 2012 - 2:23 pm)

Patenting software is a complete joke. The patent was on microprocessors not their expression in the form of writing code.

Software should be copyrighted, not patented. This entire mess of patent trolls in software is absurd.

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phillybum (Apr 15, 2012 - 2:42 pm)

new methods of using old devices were always patentable. dont see why computers are any different.

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georgecostanza (Apr 15, 2012 - 2:56 pm)

Why aren't movies patented then, since they use a projector? What about books made on a typewriter.

Why is it that if I type a book into a computer it is copyrighted, but if I type a code into a computer it is patented?

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phillybum (Apr 15, 2012 - 3:51 pm)

The movies do not make a movie camera itself behave in a different way.

Now, a novel modification to a camera that makes it record in a different fashion, e.g. at a faster rate with better focusing is surely patent-able. That is what software does to a computer.

Software is not something you write using a computer, it is code that modifies computer functions (yes, you usually write it on a computer but you could also use say punch-cards). The specific code itself is not patent-able anyway (it is copyright-able actually), it is the modifications of the computer functions that are patent-able see e.g. Bilski v. Kappos.

If you invent a novel way to use a movie projector or a typewriter you get a patent. Why are not you entitled to a patent if you invent a new way to use a computer?

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georgecostanza (Apr 15, 2012 - 5:37 pm)

Because the benefit of purchasing a computer is that you can write new software... thats what its designed to do.

Using the movie example, I think software patents are akin to patenting each movie that plays on a projector because its "a new way of using a projector by playing a different movie". The projector was designed to play movies. The computer is designed to create automated solutions to problems. In both cases the patent belongs on the physical object, and their applications are copyrighted.

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phillybum (Apr 15, 2012 - 6:01 pm)

Surely, you jest.

Projecting different movies does not rise to the level of inventiveness (novelty + non-obviousness) required to code the first file server, or to write code that powers Facebook or Google.

Using the projector to screen different movies is not anywhere NEAR the same as writing a new operating system, or a new social networking server, or the world's first internet browser.

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georgecostanza (Apr 15, 2012 - 6:21 pm)

I think we're talking about two different things. An interface such as an operating system, I have no problem with patenting.

On the other hand, the "patents" going on right now on the smallest B.S. that I could literally think of in 30 seconds are absurd and should be simply copyrighted, but for whatever reason are allowed to be patented. If these things are all patentable, than what utility is there in owning a computer? It seems that you think a computer is nothing but a terminal for running other utilities. I think a computer is a utility in itself with the benefit of being able to create automated methods of completing any application.

And I don't understand your objection to the projector analogy. I think that making an entire movie is absolutely as much work as making a program like facebook. Both things are run on and dependent on a physical piece of equipment. The only difference I can see is that one is interactive and one is not, but I don't think that has any bearing on patent vs. copyright except in the case of a complete operating system or language. At best the programming language itself should be patented, but I don't think that every application of that language thereafter should also be patented.

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phillybum (Apr 15, 2012 - 6:51 pm)

"I think we're talking about two different things. An interface such as an operating system, I have no problem with patenting."
---
Well then we agree. You can't now just say "Patenting software is a complete joke" because you agree that SOME software should be entitled to a patent.



"On the other hand, the "patents" going on right now on the smallest B.S. that I could literally think of in 30 seconds are absurd and should be simply copyrighted, but for whatever reason are allowed to be patented."
---
This is not a critique of software patents in general. Those patents should not issue anyway because they fail the test of "non-obviousness."



"It seems that you think a computer is nothing but a terminal for running other utilities"
--
Yep, a computer is a big piece of metal. With no software it is just one giant paper weight.



"I don't think that every application of that language thereafter should also be patented."
--
I agree. Only novel and non-obvious applications should be patented. Which happens to be the current law.



As for movies, I agree making them is a lot of work. But so is peeling 2000lb of potatoes. New movies are not non-obvious in a patent-able way.

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adamtheengineer (Apr 15, 2012 - 5:57 pm)

Venture capitalists are leading the charge to abolish software patents because it's better for their companies. Without patents it would be impossible for some kid in his garage to unseat a major corporation with a new technology.

On a basic level there are a lot of tech things that can't be patented for various reasons. Someone will develop an application for Twitter or Facebook and eventually if the features provided by those applications are good enough they will be rolled back into the platform and the developer will either be bought out or they will go out of business.

This is one of the risks of developing for a platform like Twitter or Facebook or even in the Apple ecosystem. While there is nothing wrong with this situation by itself it shows how able large companies are at copying others.

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georgecostanza (Apr 15, 2012 - 6:31 pm)

Can you explain this comment a little more?

In my view, venture capitalists are making money because of small startups quickly being able to compete with large companies. I don't know how venture capitalists benefit from that kid not being able to unseat major corporations since the venture capitalists are by definition interested in quick startups.

The whole description you gave of twitter and facebook is exactly the problem. Its leading to ridiculous valuations of things that are obviously not worth what they are being sold for. Last week facebook purchased an app for altering photos that literally could have been programmed in a half day for a billion dollars. That company has 12 employees. How this country got to the point where 12 person companies are being bought for a billion dollars and nobody is questioning how or why is beyond me.

Just on its face, that application does not provide a billion dollars of value to society. I'm not saying that patents were the only problem with this situation, but they are part of it. Our tech companies are quickly devolving into companies that, instead of providing innovative solutions to problems, are instead suing each other and attempting to block competition with massive patent portfolios. Thats not a positive for any industry.

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adamtheengineer (Apr 15, 2012 - 6:46 pm)

Sure. Usually in any space where there is a market there are three or four (or one hundred) companies competing. Without patents VC's can pick a company that has a rock solid team with proven execution and run away with the idea. Ultimately the VC wants to remove risk. And the risk is that the VC puts together a fucking awesome team and then some kid in his garage develops something that you aren't legally allowed to copy.

Instagram didn't have anything to do with patents. Facebook obviously wants the extra eyeballs. There have been a lot of blog posts in the community questioning and praising and whatever other opinions are possible on the subject. The acquisition price fuels an unrealistic fantasy that a lot of younger developers have.

There's going to be a bubble popping in the near future. There's Groupon and their accounting issues and how they fail to make much or any profits. There's Zynga. They are basically a copy and analytics machine. Obviously Facebook is in the best position to weather the storm because they are king of social. But a lot of other companies are going to get hit hard. In my opinion consumer isn't that great of a space to be in. Sell shit to businesses.

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legalmanager12 (Apr 15, 2012 - 7:34 pm)

I mostly agree with your comment.

Minor points:

(1) Facebook bought Instagram due to the fact that INstagram is deep into the smart device market (cell phones, Ipad , etc) but Facebook isn't.

(2) I am not convinced that Facebook will survive the social media bubble bursting, but we shall see.

Generally speaking, regarding VCs

People build up a lot of fantasies about what VCs are just like every other aspect of doing business.

The reality is a lot closer to what you describe.

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lawbaron (Apr 15, 2012 - 3:27 pm)

Patent trolling has to be extremely profitable. Last week Microsoft paid $1 billion for some patents from AOL.

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phillybum (Apr 15, 2012 - 3:57 pm)

Microsoft buying $1 billion worth of patents from AOL has NOTHING to do wth patent trolling.

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silk (Apr 15, 2012 - 9:09 pm)

Traditional patents don't mesh well with the software industry. The process of getting a patent moves at a snail's pace compared to software development speed. Further, far too many patents were already granted that should have been dismissed as obvious to those trained in the art, but the patent office wasn't qualified to judge those patents at the time and many of those out writing software were only dimly aware the patent office even existed. I've seen patents that were granted years after I had written the same basic software as a teenager or in college for fun. This is an *extremely* common pattern, and that's why you see the open source movement because geeks are generally most interested in writing software, and use open source licenses and such as a defense.

A new programming language might well be patentable but if somebody patented it, few would write programs in it since there are ample unrestricted alternatives.

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legalmanager12 (Apr 15, 2012 - 10:18 pm)

Yeah, I agree you are missing the point. Its like the patent that was recently sought for predictive coding software. that too is premised on some likely very basic concepts that are not patentable, but the companies seeking such patents count on ignorance to push them through as do their lawyers. I don't really blame them, but it does mean that there is a lot of confusion about what really syould have been patented or not. I take the statement about writing code in high school to mean that the code was so basic that there was no reason to patent it. Its like algorithms shouldn't be patentable but lawyers find a way to get them patented by not calling them algorithms.

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phillybum (Apr 15, 2012 - 10:28 pm)

Thought =/= granted. Can you demonstrate some patents that you think should have never been granted?

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legalmanager12 (Apr 15, 2012 - 10:44 pm)

Are you seriously requesting proof after you basically totally mischaracterized what the other poster said to you? That comment is on the site. No one need provide a link to it. Yet, you still managed to distort what was said.

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phillybum (Apr 16, 2012 - 8:04 am)

I did not mischaracterize anything. It seems peope love to say there are many "bad" software patents, i did the same thing for fun in college, anyone could have come up with the same thing in 30 seconds etc.

Yet, i have not genuinely seen too many concrete examples of those allegedly bad software patents.

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jdization (Apr 15, 2012 - 10:23 pm)

You might want to read:

The Trevor Law Group was a Beverly Hills law firm notable in California and nationally for their alleged heavy-handed tort law abuse. In 2002, it was complained that they wrongfully sent demand letters to thousands of businesses in California offering to settle after suing them in exchange for "settlements" amounting to thousands of dollars apiece, citing a now defunct Business & Professions Code [section 17200] violation. They were investigated for this action and 3 principals of the firm were sought to be disbarred and eventually resigned as lawyers. [1] [2]

The Trevor lawyers appeared to have gone further than many other law firms accused of abusing this section in several regards. The Trevor Law Group are often cited in discussions of tort law abuse in articles and California talk radio. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevor_Law_Group


Must read:

http://archive.calbar.ca.gov/Archive.aspx?articleId=46461&categoryId=46445&month=4&year=2003

http://archive.calbar.ca.gov/Archive.aspx?articleId=50428&categoryId=50372&month=6&year=2003

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silk (Aug 24, 2012 - 4:18 pm)

Here's a nice list: http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Example_software_patents

I've seen pretty silly ones, like running a network cable between machines being patented.... it's about like patenting using a stapler to staple different kinds of documents.

If the software world moved at the rate of traditional patents, the internet would look like it did in 1997 (at best).

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skankhunt42 (Dec 19, 2018 - 11:47 am)

I think theres a guy doing this on /dome with a domain.

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patenttrollnj (Dec 23, 2018 - 11:17 am)

Ah yes, "trolling" was all the rage in IP law 5 or so years ago, but now it seems to have gotten a bit cliche.

Of course, they're never referred to as "trolls" in professional circles. They go by the euphemism "non-practicing entities" .... and practitioners will go to great lengths to remind you that universities, estates of dead people, and trusts are all examples of "non-practicing entities" (eye roll).

Sorry, but we're not talking about universities. We're talking about TROLLS! I.e., entities that deliberately take-advantage of the IP laws as written to unduly profit from a patent or copyright by threatening lawsuit, thus extracting money in excess of what the IP is actually worth.

This is all a function of the fact that some huge percentage of IP is worthless AND the culture at the USPTO encourages allowance of patent applications even in cases when the "invention" is outright ridiculous (and, if you don't believe me, take a look at some of the stuff that does get patented).

FYI --- there is a recent documentary called "The Patent Scam" that addresses this issue. I think it's available on Netflix and/or the iTunes Store. Enjoy!

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