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Site ‘Patent Progress’ Focuses on Patent Trolls, Not Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 4:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Government Accountability Office

Summary: Analysis of the stance of a site which purports to be achieving “patent progress”

Following the GAO study which blames software patents we have been watching with interest how patent boosters warped its conclusions. That’s only to be expected. Lawyers — especially patent lawyers — don’t want to see patent scope being limited.

Several months ago I subscribed with caution to the site called Patent Progress — a site run by “legal” people on the face of it. These are the sorts of people who under the wing of the EFF have been warping somewhat the goal of banning software patents, choosing instead to focus on “bad” patents or patent trolls.

Based on some posts that allude to the GAO study, the people who run Patent Progress want to focus on trolls and not patent scope. This recent post from the Patent Progress blog makes it quite apparent and although the views may depend based on who writes the post, it does seem like prominent (prolific) writers over there continue to obsess over trolls. To quote:

Predatory pricing is the strategy of pricing goods or services below cost in the hopes of driving competitors out of the market and then raising prices to supra-competitive levels. Hovenkamp notes that like predatory pricing, bottom feeder trolls will litigate patent infringement cases even when they are likely to lose in order to generate a reputation for aggressive litigation. In fact, patent trolls have been found to use the same patents over and over again (8 or more times) despite only winning less than 10% of these cases. Once the reputation is established, defendants can no longer rely on patent trolls rationally deciding to drop loser lawsuits and must calculate the costs of litigating a full trial in making the decision to settle. Hovenkamp calls this strategy of short run losses to generate supra-competitive licensing fees predatory patent litigation.

Patent Progress has done some protesting which covers software patents, but the focus of the site seem to align with the sort of reform sought by Google and other large corporations. To them, patent trolls are the problem which merits most emphasis.

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A Single Comment

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    September 23, 2013 at 5:38 am


    That’s rather a deadly mistake for the EFF to wander down that path. The number of “bad” software patents is nearly infinite while the amount of money and staff available to fight them is very scarce. From a conference presentation (I can’t find it) from about 10 years ago, the amount of money needed to overturn a software patent, was on the order of $4 million USD *per patent*. Here an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.

    To make matters worse, the patents are often held by shell companies so there are no assets to recover in the case the shell company loses. When one loses, the parent just folds the shell company and spawns two more. IV and other trolls own thousands each.

    If “Patent Progress” serves to drag the EFF and the community at large into a protracted, expensive game of whack-a-mole against software patents, the money will be all gone for nothing. The EFF should not fall for this mistake / deception. If it is an oversight due to ignorance, the EFF can turn “Patent Progress” around and get their help in going after the root cause, software patents themselves. If it is not an oversight, but an intentional act of deception, then the EFF should help shut them down and get the community to cut off funding.

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