12.20.17

Notorious Patent Troll, Erich Spangenberg, Has a New Target

Posted in America, Patents at 12:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Erich Spangenberg

Summary: Erich Spangenberg, who used bogus patents to scam his way into many millions of dollars (‘protection’ money), enters the blockchain

THE EXTRAVAGANT troll known as Erich Spangenberg was covered here many times before, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. His former troll entity pretty much went out of existence after the patent/s in question got canned. But he is still around.

CNBC said yesterday that “patent trolls are digging into the blockchain” — a headline which speaks about a familiar troll who deserves to go bankrupt (ill-gotten wealth). As expected, blockchain is being targeted now. Techrights warned about it in past years, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. “The blockchain,” explains the report from CNBC, “the digital ledger system that underlies the boom in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, is an innovation born within the open-source software community, where software coders pride themselves on the sharing of information. But the blockchain’s open-source formative years may not stay that way.

“As bitcoin nears $20,000 and other digital currencies experience unprecedented gains, some of the biggest names in the corporate world are seeking patents related to the blockchain — financial companies like Visa, retailers like Walmart and the tech old guard like IBM. And in what likely would cause distress in the open-source movement, in late November one of the business world’s most notorious patent trolls hatched plans to create and amass a trove of blockchain patents.”

Then comes the key part: “Erich Spangenberg, who became notorious in Silicon Valley for challenging tech patents, has put together a new group to unlock the value in blockchain IP. Spangenberg wrote in a recent blog post, “The financial press is having fun talking about Bitcoin, but another important story that gets less attention is the technology underlying Bitcoin called ‘blockchain.’””

“His former troll entity pretty much went out of existence after the patent/s in question got canned. But he is still around.”Those are software patents. The only practical way to make something out of them is to avoid the courts and blackmail companies out of court. It doesn’t matter where really; software patents, especially in the financial domain, are the most fragile of all.

Yesterday “Bluefin Announce[d] the Issuance of their First Japanese Patent,” but this one too is financial. Patents like this one are hard to enforce (even in courts in Japan these days), so these are more like ‘trophy’ patents or something one uses to intimidate rather than sue companies.

Thankfully, with TC Heartland (2017, Supreme Court), it’s already getting very hard for trolls in the US. IAM’s Timothy Au has just posted this overview of patents from RPX (now that RPX is being sort of liquidated); the death of most patent trolls in the US makes RPX irrelevant as it explores/ponders a move to China (where trolling has shifted in recent years).

“Thankfully, with TC Heartland (2017, Supreme Court), it’s already getting very hard for trolls in the US.”There’s also the implosion of BlackBerry, which has become little more than a patent troll. Earlier today the Wall Street media said that the company’s CEO “Chen is also working to strike new licensing deals for the stable of patents BlackBerry has from its heyday as a smartphone pioneer.”

It’s trying to become a software company now. But at the same time a great share of its activity is dedicated to patent shakedown.

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