EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.03.10

The Truth About Thomas Edison and New Species of Patent Trolls

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thomas Edison

Summary: A look back at very abusive behaviour from a patent office icon; new critique of the patent process

WHEN most people hear the name Thomas Edison they think of a great scientist and inventor, not a ruthless businessman. Edison was somewhat of a raider, who became legendary for the number of patents he had amassed. Just how inventive was he really? Well, actually, he had the habit of taking other people’s ideas and claiming credit/monopoly for them after slight modifications. Edison essentially hacked the patent office, just like some of today’s patent trolls. This is a subject which we alluded to before [1, 2].

Edison probably deserves to be remembered as a shrewd businessman (like Bill Gates and his publicity/taxation tricks), not an icon of scientific ingenuity. Ars Technica has this new article about Edison and it’s far from flattering.

Thomas Edison’s plot to hijack the movie industry

[...]

But what ultimately did the Edison monopoly in was the assumption that its legal/technological dominance over the trade, and its moral stance, would trump the public’s demand for ever more creative motion pictures. Unlike the independents, the MPCC system did not invest in its network. Consumers would simply have to watch Edison Trust fare, the monopoly’s principals figured.

[...]

Thus the Edison Trust was sunk, even before a federal court agreed with prosecutors that the Patents Company and General Film had broken every antitrust principle in the book, “terrorizing exchanges and exhibitors” and driving away competitors by “arbitrary, oppressive, and high-handed methods.”

The sage took his defeat like a good sport. He was, after all, still America’s beloved inventor. At the end of the conflict, Edison dropped by to dedicate Universal’s new all-electric movie studio, now located in a pleasant southern California town called Hollywood.

Take heed, tech giants of today. Some of your companies or services aren’t much older than the Edison Trust was when it collapsed. How much of your current business strategy is based on offering new and original products, and how much of it is based on laws, courts, and the fact that you got there first?

“Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure,” Thomas Edison once warned. He ought to know.

Slashdot has this new entry right now — one that’s titled “A New Species of Patent Troll” even though it covers a differently titled piece on a disturbing drama around patents and marking.

Patents have a life span of 17 or 20 years. To keep them valid, companies must pay maintenance fees every four years. Once they expire, the holder is expected to remove the numbers from products.

Why go through all this trouble? Is there truly an economic benefit to society as a whole? Similar questions ought to be asked about CIIs/software patents, which increasingly bring Edison-like abusers to the field of programming. The problem is, the lobbyists from the United States try to expand these to Europe, triggering reactions of many who saw and learned from the errors of the USPTO. Just days ago the president of the FFII spotted some nice short propaganda containing the word “technical” 45 times at a high level of density, e.g.:

However, it is often difficult to separate a claim into technical and non-technical features, and an invention may have technical aspects which are hidden in a largely non-technical context

“Technical” is one of those words that are used excessively by lawyers (another one is “invention”) to justify their paperwork and outrageous fees that they extract from work of actual creators.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

2 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    September 3, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Gravatar

    The Ars piece was interesting but it was written like a Rorschach test. People who are keeping up with the non free software patent apocalypse will see lessons for Microsoft, Apple and Oracle. People listening to Microsoft’s weekly “screw Google” meeting will read, “We have here an object lesson that the Internet empires of our time ought to consider.” and think of Google. It’s pretty clear who the modern, clueless patent abusers are, so why does Ars obfuscate and fail to name them?

    Google has mostly been the target of bogus lawsuits. A quick search for “Google patent lawsuit” at Yahoo (Bing) turns up no lawsuit launched by Google. That’s based on the summaries because the articles Bing turns up are all from sites so Microsoft dominated that they don’t work with the 3.5 branch of Konqueror.

    There are other historical examples of USPTO abuse retarding industry but nothing compares to the software patent fraud. Glass bottle companies are probably the worst, where there were only two makers of glass bottle machines in the US which ruthlessly controlled bottling companies that were, in turn, equally ruthless monopolies like Coke. The two machine companies had a web of patents they used against everyone else and each other. Automobile patents have been mentioned here and elswhere recently. Few of the patents abused by those companies are as ridiculous as the flood of business method patents created by the State Street decision that made a loophole for business method patents implemented by computer. Because computers are essential to all business today, the tax on society and audacity of the non free software fraud is much greater than the burden imposed by any single abusive industry of a century ago.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Coke is now masquerading under more brand names, marketing these as “organic” for about 10 times the cost.

What Else is New


  1. In the European Patent Office, One Gets Rewarded for Mentally Torturing ('Interrogating') Staff

    Elodie Bergot and her "Gestapo" have both enjoyed spectacular promotions, broadening the reach of Battistelli's "police state" culture



  2. IP Kat Participates in Deletion of Information About EPO Scandals

    IP Kat has just deleted nearly 40 comments (some of them very detailed); we bring these back to life for the sake of history and preservation



  3. Links 23/10/2017: Wine Staging 2.19, GNOME 3.27.1

    Links for the day



  4. SUEPO Has Just Warned That Patent Quality at the EPO is About to Get Even Worse

    The staff union of the EPO (SUEPO) speaks of increasing "production" pressure, which is certain to result in low-quality European Patents



  5. The EPO No Longer Measures Quality of Patents; Instead It Publishes Fake Statistics

    The decline in patent quality at the EPO is a long-known issue and suppression of information about it merely enabled several more years of questionable patent grants, thereby putting at risk the perceived value of EPO services



  6. Speaking of “Social Democracy” While Suffering Extreme Democratic Deficiency

    The EPO represents an even broader assault on democracy in Europe (implicating ILO, Team UPC, national delegates, and national governments), but Benoît Battistelli is unique in the sense that he's disguising it or lying to himself about it



  7. Management by Intimidation Has Caused Deaths at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    An accurate diagnosis of the conditions created at the European Patent Office (EPO) by Benoît Battistelli and his cronies, who have essentially hijacked the Organisation -- not just the Office -- then attacked every 'enemy', either real or perceived



  8. The Difference Between Alain Pompidou and Benoît Battistelli as EPO President

    The different approaches adopted by Pompidou and Battistelli; one pursued amicable mediation and training, whereas the other resorted to vindicative witch-hunts, kangaroo courts, and a culture of terror which resulted in many suicides



  9. The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO - Part IV: Links Between CGD (Former Employer of António Campinos) and the INPI

    More information about connections between CGD and the Portuguese Intellectual Property Office (INPI)



  10. Links 21/10/2017: Purism Against ME, Pop!_OS Ready

    Links for the day



  11. US Patents Appeal Board Attacked by the Patent 'Industry', Defended by Federal Courts, and Dodged by Patent Trolls

    PTAB, the branch or the 'court' responsible for eliminating bad patents, is coming under attacks from those who rely on poor patent quality and receives praises from everyone else, as usual



  12. In the United States, the Patent 'Industry' is a Dying Breed and China Adopts This Destructive Force

    The decaying patent microcosm, or the pipeline of low-quality patents and frivolous lawsuits these entail, loses its grip on the US; China, much to the astonishment of people who actually create things, is attempting to attract that ruinous microcosm (which preys on real, producing companies)



  13. Microsoft and Nokia's Patent Trolls by Proxy: First Conversant, Now Provenance Asset Group Holdings LLC

    Microsoft's shell game with patents (passing Android-hostile patents to trolls) carries on and publishers funded by these trolls offer the details, albeit vaguely and with obvious spin



  14. Anonymous Professionals Speak of Benoît Battistelli's Destruction of the EPO, But Why Does the Media Turn a Blind Eye?

    Everyone in the circles of EPO staff and EPO stakeholders knows that dysfunction has become the norm; European media, however, remains suspiciously silent about what otherwise would be a major European scandal (bigger than FIFA or Dieselgate)



  15. The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO - Part III: More Details About Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Former Employer of Campinos

    The side of Campinos which he prefers to conceal, or rather his association with a rather notorious Portuguese bank



  16. UPC Looks Like More of a Distant Dream (or Nightmare) as Germany Adds Another Two Months' Delay

    The likelihood that the UPC will be altogether scuttled is growing as delays keep piling up and more complaints are being filed by public interest groups (as opposed to Team UPC, which hoped to shove the UPCA down everyone's throats behind closed doors)



  17. Patent Trolls Roundup: BlackBerry, Dominion Harbor, IPNav, IP Bridge

    A quick review of recent news regarding patent trolls or entities which resemble (and sometimes feed) these



  18. Battistelli's Destruction of the EPO is Bad for Everyone, Even Patent Attorneys

    The collapse of the European patent system, owing primarily to Battistelli's totalitarian style and deemphasis on patent quality, means that "the war is lost," as one professional puts it



  19. Links 19/10/2017: Mesa 17.2.3, New Ubuntu Release, Samsung Flirts With GNU/Linux Desktops

    Links for the day



  20. Some of the USPTO's Most Ridiculous Patents Are Scrutinised by “Above the Law” While Dennis Crouch Attempts to Tarnish Alice

    Controversies over patent scope and level of novelty required for a patent; as usual, public interest groups try to restrict patent scope, whereas those who make money out of abundance of patents attempt to remove every barrier



  21. Microsoft's Software Patents Aggression in Court (Corel Again)

    Microsoft's tendency to not only abuse the competition but also to destroy it with patent lawsuits as seen in Corel's case



  22. The Spanish Supreme Court Rejects the EPO's “Problem and Solution Approach” While Quality of European Patents Nosedives

    European Patents (EPs) aren't what they used to be and their credibility is being further eroded and even detected as such



  23. Europe is Being Robbed by Team Battistelli and the UPC/PPH Would Make Things Worse

    The European Patent Office (EPO) has put litigation at the forefront, having implicitly decided to no longer bother with proper patent examination and instead issue lots of patents for judges and lawyers to argue about (at great expense to the public)



  24. Team UPC Continues to Promote Illusion of UPC Progress Where There's None

    The core members of Team UPC in the UK spread obvious falsehoods in the media, probably in an effort to attract 'business' (consultation regarding something that does not exist)



  25. António Campinos: A True EPO Reformer or More of the Same?

    More unfortunate reminders that Campinos and Battistelli don't quite diverge on the big issues, they're just more than two decades apart in age (but the same nationality)



  26. Juve Has Confirmed That António Campinos is French

    The relationship between Campinos and Battistelli has a nationality aspect to it, not even taking into account the interpersonal connection which goes a long way back



  27. The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO - Part II: António Campinos at Banco Caixa Geral de Depósitos

    A look at the largely-hidden banking career of the next President of the EPO and the career of the person who competed with him for this position



  28. SUEPO to the Media, Regarding Campinos: “No Comment, It’s Too Dangerous”

    António Campinos, who is Benoît Battistelli's chosen successor at the EPO, as covered by German media earlier this month



  29. Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) Willing to Work With Campinos But Foresees Difficulties

    New message from SUEPO regarding Battistelli's successor of choice (Campinos)



  30. Links 18/10/2017: GTK+ 3.92, Microsoft Bug Doors Leaked

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts