Discussion: John Oliver Takes On The Trolls That 'Sue The Living Shit' Out Of People (VIDEO)

Discussion for article #235460

The fact that we get anything done with all this shit going on is truly amazing.


Congress would do something about this except for one likely fact. These patent trolls probably contribute large sums to strategic committee member’s campaign operations (and related PACs), the very legislators capable of crafting laws to effect change.

I recall applying for a trademark and then having it revoked because I did not pursue the idea and could not show the USPTO that the trademark was going to be used in the manner described in the application. This prevents people from squatting on trademarks like they do with web domain names. Similarly, they need to prevent people from squatting on ideas in the form of patents. If you are not actively pursuing the idea, the patent should be revoked.

I get the value of having patents to protect people from copying your work, but if you aren’t actually working on anything related to the patent, then you should have to forfeit the patent.

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The first problem is that too many inappropriate patents are issued in the first place.
The second is that we have deluded ourselves that patent rents are somehow earned market rents instead of government enforced monopoly rents.
The third is that monopoly rents are always popular with businesses and with the granting authorities, especially if no one seems to notice that the enabling bit (the patent) is a government granted monopoly. No wonder that the legal profession would catch on eventually and get their snout in the trough.

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For people not familiar with the high tech industry, many large companies have bonuses for filing patents of any kind, whether it is something you are working on or not. Some of these bonuses can be thousands of dollars per patent. So this gives people incentive to come up with any idea they can think of and cash in on the bonus program. There will often be brainstorming sessions where people sit in a room and just come up with ideas and the patent lawyers take over from there. It doesn’t matter whether it is something the company is planning to build or not, it just matters that it is somehow related to the companies business and pad their patent portfolio.

There are a couple of bills before Congress regarding patent reform addressing the problem of the “troll” issue. Dems indroduced a bill in the Senate (which probably won’t see much traction as it doesn’t address some Republican hot-button issues) and the Republicans have done so in the House.


Republicans will insert amendments requiring 1 week waiting periods to get an abortion, along with a rider requiring Obama to revoke Iran’s membership in the UN, thus scuttling the bill.

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Patent reform is a bipartisan issue.

So universities should be required to forfeit any patents? Because the university did a ton of research and then a corporation copied the idea and got to use that research for free?

Moreover, that proposal would probably be unconstitutional. Patent rights are very clearly derived from article 3, section 8 to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

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Unless being partisan pays better.

That’s not even the real problem. It’s that too many patents are issued for vague software functions that aren’t really inventions, which is what patents are supposed to be about. For example, spreading your fingers apart to magnify the screen on a phone. This is how the guy who filed a patent for distributing taped recordings by mail managed to claim infringement by every podcast ever made.

Incidentally, it’s interesting to note that while the MP3 player per se is not an Apple invention (and as far as I know isn’t patented as a total device), the iPod design itself - complete with the screen and selection wheel - is actually taken directly from a filed-but-never-finalized patent application by someone else.

He can make that claim however much of a stretch it is and companies have in the past caved rather than resort to costly litigation. The AIA however provides an inexpensive alternative to reexamine and possibly invalidate the patent. Software patents are frankly silly. Companies accumulate them for defensive purposes and cross-licensing opportunities with other companies.

Your comments are confusing. Your contention that patent trolls contribute to PACs which pay Congressmen/women to vote against reform doesn’t make any sense if you knew about how trolls operate (and government as I’m assuming you’d also say that Congress is in the pocket of Corporate America). The bad actors, not all non-practicing entities are, aren’t large corporations but individuals who usually acquire patents from third parties to assert against multiple companies in a single suit (which cannot happen anymore because of the AIA). Trolls are essentially fake storefront “companies” with a P.O. Box in the Eastern District of Texas (the preferred venue for troll litigation) and are owned by an individual, usually an attorney.

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My point is that one of the reasons there are so many vague software patents is that people are incentivized to come up with these by their employers.

I recently retired from my job as a litigation assistant in an IP firm where we defended large clients from these patent trolls.

This guy is really brilliant. I have just started watching his show and he is a giant

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One article you cite talks about innovator companies Microsoft and Apple advocating on behalf of “trolls” for whatever gain for them (not trolls). Another speaks of big pharma scuttling patent reform (again not a “troll”). The others talk about IV and it’s debatable whether or not their a troll depending on what side of the issue you sit. They’re a patent-holding company that does license out their patents though they don’t make anything.Nothing about PACs.