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

11.17.11

Cost of Patent Trolls Studied as Acceptance of USPTO Falls, Developers Complain Even in Press Releases

Posted in Patents at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bessen

Summary: More academic insight and more anecdotal evidence of the backlash against the existing patent laws and practices

The silly, meaningless measures that we see of innovation as function of patents continue to come from press outlets like the The New York Times, which in turn cites a “report by Thomson Reuters, published on Tuesday [and] tries to draw a more accurate link between corporate patent filings and real innovation. It does so by measuring not only the number of patents a company files, but also the influence, global reach and success of its patents.”

Innovation should not be quantified in these terms. Profit and patents are something better used as indicators of monopoly power, which is what patents are all about at the end of the day. To measure innovation properly, other yardsticks are definitely needed. Watch how Doom 3 source code fails to arrive due to patents. It was in the news yesterday and it’s a fine example of where patents do a lot of harm when geometric knowledge can be shared. There is a better — and for a change academic — work that helps shed light on the effects of patents. It was covered by CNN yet again (as before) and this time it focused on patent trolls. Bessen and his wonderful group published another paper which got the attention of those who keep abreast of the patents debate. Here is the original (Boston University) where the abstract states: “In the past, non-practicing entities (NPEs) — firms that license patents without producing goods — have facilitated technology markets and increased rents for small inventors. Is this also true for today’s NPEs? Or are they “patent trolls” who opportunistically litigate over software patents with unpredictable boundaries? Using stock market event studies around patent lawsuit filings, we find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010, mostly from technology companies. Moreover, very little of this loss represents a transfer to small inventors. Instead, it implies reduced innovation incentives.”

IDG covered this too. Notice the opening paragraphs:

For those of us who follow the tech industry closely, patents are a touchy subject lately thanks to all the litigation going on over software patents.

This is particularly true in the mobile arena, where companies including Apple and Microsoft have been especially enthusiastic in their use of patents as leverage over their competitors.

They do this because they are losing to Android/Linux.

Here is another IDG article, this one bearing the headline “Patent Trolls Cost Businesses $80 Billion Per Year, Study Finds”. To quote: ““Non-practicing entities” (NPEs) is the polite name given to patent trolls by Boston University School of Law researchers James Bessen, Jennifer Ford, and Michael Meurer, whose paper, “The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls” (PDF), will soon be published in the journal Regulation.

“Whereas such firms once helped enable technology markets and boost the profits small inventors could earn from their inventions, that’s no longer the case, the authors argue. Rather, today’s NPEs assert patents “on an unprecedented scale,” they write, involving thousands of defendants every year in hundreds of lawsuits.

“The researchers studied the effect of patent lawsuits on defendants’ wealth by examining the stock price of those companies around the time the lawsuits in question were filed. After factoring out market trends and random factors, they found that between 1990 and 2010, NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars in lost wealth to defendants.”

Here is an example of a legal case that has been concluded after no less than 2 years (i.e. very expensive process):

A Portland, Ore.-based company that sued two multiple listing service software vendors for patent infringement has lost a two-year court battle, with a U.S. District Court Judge dismissing its claim against one of the vendors and invalidating the patent in question.

As the president of the FFII puts it in relation to another case:

ProSoftnet, creator of IBackup.com and IDrive.com, is now defending itself against patent trolls

There is actually a press release about it, which is a testament to the sad state this whole system is in. To quote:

Cloud Storage Pioneer Pro Softnet Faces Most Disruptive Patent Attack to Date

Pro Softnet, an independently owned and operated online backup and cloud storage company that provides service to over 800,000 subscribers through its popular IBackup and IDrive products, is now in the midst of defending itself against the largest patent attack it has yet faced brought on by a non-practicing entity, or NPE. With several new and exciting services in the cloud sharing space scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2012 – the pending lawsuit has the potential to interrupt growth for this pioneering company.

WIPO propaganda is trying to justify its existence, quite frankly as usual, while many genuine companies with real products (and no patent lawyers) are suffering. This leaves development and innovation crashing down and deterring participation. More and more people are starting to really get it. The patent system is on shaky grounds. It does not serve innovators.

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

3 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    November 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Gravatar

    FUD:

    It does so by measuring not only the number of patents a company files, but also the influence, global reach and success of its patents.”

    Innovation should not be quantified in these terms. Profit and patents are something better used as indicators of monopoly power, which is what patents are all about at the end of the day.

    And yet you did not complain when Google purchases massive “indicators of monopoly power”.

    Again, massive bias on your part.

    In any case, yes – the patent system is broken. It needs to be improved and it needs to be made more consistent around the world so people know what they are dealing with.

    But unless or until you have an actual solution, all you are doing is whining. Over and over and over.

    saulgoode Reply:

    And yet you did not complain when Google purchases massive “indicators of monopoly power”.

    Actually, Techrights — on several occasions — has complained about Google’s purchasing of patents.

    http://techrights.org/2011/07/25/cartels-part-of-the-problem/
    http://techrights.org/2011/04/06/benjamin-henrion-on-google-nortel/
    http://techrights.org/2011/09/15/brutal-nature-of-patents/

    Michael Reply:

    Fair enough… and thank you for the correction.

    But Google is not deemed “evil”. They are still the good guys – even if they play the same games as the “bad guys”.

    I would love to see Roy state what he sees as good and evil and then apply that equally to all of the companies he talks about: Apple, MS, Samsung, Google, HTC. Also apply it to the open source world.

    is it wrong to sue? Is it wrong to “slavishly” copy other’s work? Is it wrong to give products away for free? Is it wrong to collect users’ data?

    The answer changes with Roy depending on his preconceived notions of who is good or evil. Bottom line: if Apple or MS do any of those things it is wrong; if the others named above do it they are doing the right thing, or, at worst, are making a strategic mistake but are not being evil.

What Else is New


  1. Links 23/10/2014: New *buntu, Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  2. Links 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  3. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  4. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  5. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  6. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  7. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  8. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  9. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  10. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents



  11. Is It Google's Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

    The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests



  12. The EPO's Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

    Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO's management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO's management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time



  13. Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

    Links for the day



  14. Links 18/10/2014: New ELive, Android Expansion

    Links for the day



  15. Another Fresh Blow to Software Patents (and With Them Patent Trolls)

    Another new development shows that more burden of proof is to be put on the litigant, thus discouraging the most infamous serial patent aggressors and reducing the incentive to settle with a payment out of court



  16. Links 16/10/2014: New Android, SSL 3.0 Flaw

    Links for the day



  17. How the Corporate Press Deceives and Sells Microsoft Agenda

    Various new examples of media propaganda that distorts or makes up the facts (bias/lies by omission/selection) and where this is all coming from



  18. Vista 10 is Still Vapourware, But We Already Know It Will Increase Surveillance on Its Users and Contain Malicious Back Doors

    The villainous company which makes insecure-by-design operating systems will continue to do so, but in the mean time the corporate press covers only bugs in FOSS, not back doors in proprietary software



  19. Links 15/10/2014: KDE Plasma 5.1 is Out, GOG Reaches 100-Title Mark

    Links for the day



  20. With .NET Foundation Affiliation Xamarin is Another Step Closer to Being Absorbed by Microsoft

    Xamarin is not even trying to pretend that separation exists between Microsoft and its work; yet another collaboration is announced



  21. The EPO's Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

    Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public



  22. Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

    It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States' USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?



  23. Links 14/10/2014: CAINE 6, New RHEL, Dronecode

    Links for the day



  24. Microsoft's Disdain for Women Steals the Show at a Women's Event

    Steve Ballmer's successor, Satya Nadella, is still too tactless to lie to the audience, having been given --through subversive means -- a platform at a conference that should have shunned Microsoft, a famously misogynistic company



  25. SCOTUS May Soon Put an End to the 'Copyrights on APIs' Question While Proprietary Giants Continue to Harass Android/Linux in Every Way Conceivable

    Google takes its fight over API freedom to the Supreme Court in the Unites States and it also takes that longstanding patent harassment from the Microsoft- and Apple-backed troll (Rockstar) out of East Texas



  26. Patent Lawsuits Almost Halved After SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Software Patents

    The barrier for acceptance of software patent applications is raised in the United States and patent lawsuits, many of which involve software these days, are down very sharply, based on new figures from Lex Machina



  27. Links 13/10/2014: ChromeOS and EXT, Debian Resists Systemd Domination

    Links for the day



  28. Links 12/10/2014: Blackphone Tablet, Sony's Firefox OS Port

    Links for the day



  29. Links 9/10/2014: Free Software in Germany, Lenovo Tablets With Android

    Links for the day



  30. Links 8/10/2014: A Lot of Linux+AMD News, New ROSA Desktop Is Out

    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