01.01.10

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Bernie Marren is Not a Patent Troll, He is a Patent Toll

Posted in Apple, IBM, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Toll-free today

Summary: Some patent news with special focus on OPTi and IBM

Portfolio.com has found quite a unique way to open up an article:

Don’t call OPTi Inc. CEO Bernie Marren a “patent troll.”

TechDirt almost begs to differ, saying that OPTi is “the company that recently won a $21.7 million patent ruling against Apple, where the company’s CEO insists it’s not a patent troll because it’s only suing over patents that it got itself. It seems that Bernie Marren is trying to redefine what a “patent troll” is to mean just someone who buys patents and sues. But the real story shows that OPTi is yet another example of patents harming, not helping, innovation. The company used to produce products, but other companies eventually caught up, and OPTi couldn’t compete.”

“This does not improve innovation in any way; it’s more like corporate welfare, which is not in the public’s interest.”It is important to emphasise that “patent trolls” quite strictly means companies without physical products and assets — companies which are mostly legal firms acquiring patents just to sue. The term “patent troll” is very frequently misused. There is also the older term “patent shark”, not to mention “patent harvester” or “patent hoarder” (Microsoft loves those)

A lesser-known exploiter of the patent system would be IBM, which lobbies for software patents and is still patenting utter garbage, just like Microsoft. To them, it’s about quantity, not quality. We gave an example of this yesterday and TechDirt wrote about it too. IBM is making billions of dollars not from manufacturing products but from taxing other companies’ products with patents. This does not improve innovation in any way; it’s more like corporate welfare, which is not in the public’s interest.

DZone has this update on software patents, which it published less than a day ago:

Software Patents Get Strict
The Board of Patent Appeals released new precedents recently for patents on mathematical formulae used in software.  The precedent will only allow patents for algorithms that are applied to a tangible, practical application that is getting real-world use.  Patents also can’t be claimed for “every conceivable application” that could result from an algorithm.  Last September, the US Patent Office also introduced new guidelines saying that no industrial property protection should be granted for computer programs.

We wrote about this last week. It’s the latest episode in the Bilski case. If IBM wanted to stop software patents, it would probably get its way somehow, owing to its involvement in the Bilski test.

“People naively say to me, “If your program is innovative, then won’t you get the patent?” This question assumes that one product goes with one patent.” —Richard Stallman

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3 Comments

  1. dyfet said,

    January 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Gravatar

    The patent system and especially patent t(r)olls are simply legalized bribery. In some societies one has to pay off (bribe) people to get permits, to be allowed to practice trades, etc. In that sense patents are just a newer form of the bribe.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That’s another way to label the Patent Thicket.

    dyfet Reply:

    It is, and one that I thought might promote better understanding too…

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