Focus is lost
Summary: A deviation from the core issue a key trend now that everyone mentions “trolls” to trivialise the problem with the patent system
Our posts which criticise the US patent system (USPTO) receive a lot of positive attention because people overwhelmingly agree. We are told that a new survey says patent attacks scare off customers and kill businesses — something which patent lawyers would rather avoid discussing. The problem, however, is that Chien (law professor) singles out trolls and not software patents. To quote an article about the new study:
A new survey of in-house lawyers is adding some heft to the claim that patent attacks, especially by so-called “trolls,” are hurting the economy. Professor Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University revealed the results of her survey of 116 in-house lawyers today, and it shows that patent trolls—or companies that exist simply to litigate patents—are more prevalent than one might think.
Chien led off her brief talk by laying out the scope of the problem. Fully 62 percent of the patent lawsuits brought in 2012 were filed by trolls, which she calls Patent Assertion Entities or PAEs, the same nomenclature used by the government.
How about quantifying — proportion-wise — the frequency of software patents being involved?
Here is another article which shifts attention to trolls by saying “CBS also might be on the cutting edge when it comes to dealing with patent trolls, who seek reimbursement for companies alleging infringing on their patents. Previously, CBS would give them some money to just go away. These days, CBS partners with others to take a stand against patent trolling.”
Trolls are not the only issue; authors should be reminded of that. The same goes for copyright. Copyright trolls, as they are increasingly being labeled, are not the biggest issue with copyright law as it stands today. To give an example of copyright misuse consider the SCO case. 10 years down the line the harassment of Linux using copyright claims carries on. As Pamela Jones put it the other day:
That’s a bonk on the head for SCO, for sure, by a judge who demonstrates the simple truth that judges tend to be brainiacs, and they know it’s a duck when they see one paddling along calling out “quack, quack” even if it holds up a sign saying, “I am a Swan.” Utah, or so I’ve read, is the scam capitol of the US. So judges there not only have brains, they probably get a lot of experience as well, one assumes. Judge Nuffer also ruled that he doesn’t think oral argument would be needed on this, so SCO’s request for a hearing is also denied. I guess you could call it a no-brainer. I mean, fair is fair. Isn’t that what courts are supposed to be for? But dealing with SCOfolk does take brains and some careful planning, because they are tireless and nothing dissuades them from trying again any which way, and you see that careful thought went into this order. Also because dealing with SCO is like picking up a scorpion. You do want to give it some advance thought before you try it.
SCO is a reminder not only that trolls are the problem with so-called ‘IP’; it is also a reminder of the fact that large entities, such as Microsoft, like to use smaller entities, e.g. Nokia, to attack the competition. Nokia and SCO were both paid by Microsoft. █
“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”
–Larry Goldfarb, BayStar, key investor in SCO approached by Microsoft