Bonum Certa Men Certa

Myhrvold's “Criminal Enterprise”, Detkin's Criticism of Extortionists and Terrorists (Which He Himself Became)

Peter Detkin



Summary: Leading patent trolls come under massive pressure and the political system too, having permitted such trolls to survive and thrive

IN OUR previous coverage about the masochist (Microsoft's patent troll) we highlighted the fact that his racketeering operation is finally coming under fire from the mass media. "Podcast exposes Myhrvold's criminal enterprise," summarises it Homer, stressing that: "This is the full one-hour podcast of the investigative report conducted by Laura Sydell and Alex Blumberg into the patent terrorist known as Nathan Myhrvold, as transcribed on NPR and This American Life. Consider it essential listening for anyone wishing to understand the patent threat in the US, and in particular the seedy, underground world of patent extortionists like Nathan Myhrvold. It goes into a lot more depth than the articles."



"I was rather surprised to discover that the term "patent troll" was actually coined by one of Intel's lawyers, Peter Detkin, who also referred to such people as extortionists and terrorists. Ironically, he's since sold his soul to the devil, and become one of those patent terrorists, as a "managing partner" for Intellectual Ventures ... the heart of Myhrvold's criminal empire," concludes Homer.

Well, based upon another NPR report, the money given to them by Bill Gates has not been enough for self censorship. Many sites have linked to NPR and put more pressure to pull the plug on those blackmail operations. Even Dilbert is having fun with the subject right now. Techdirt has many posts on the subject, such as this one, this one, and one titled "When Patents Attack: How Patents Are Destroying Innovation In Silicon Valley". That third one can be found here and it says:

This week's episode of This American Life is absolutely worth listening to. The TAL team has been doing more and more amazing investigative reporting work in the past year or so, and this week's episode is called, "When Patents Attack!" which was apparently a last minute change from the much more bland and misleading "Invention Peddlers." The episode was done by Planet Money's Alex Blumberg and NPR's Laura Sydell and there's a written version of the story on the Planet Money blog, which covers most, but not all, of what's on the audio version (and, yes, it's nice that the story refers to Techdirt as an "influential blog," though it looks like they may have only done that in order to have someone they could "quote" calling Intellectual Ventures a "patent troll").


This debate has grown rather heated recently, with this and this type of opinion pieces calling for a political reform. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry puts that in highly syndicated sites and so has Klint Finley, who set up a poll for readers to participate.

Timothy B. Lee, a longtime critic of the patent system as a whole and individually Nathan the patent troll, has unleashed a string of three posts onto Forbes, wherein he too calls for political reform (through SCOTUS):

Last weekend I was thrilled to hear one of my favorite radio programs, This American Life, take up the issue of software patents. Computer programmers have been sounding the alarm about this problem for two decades, and it’s great to see mainstream media outlets finally start to give the issue the kind of attention it deserves. TAL devoted a full hour to the subject, focusing on Intellectual Ventures (which I’ve written about at length) and did an absolutely spectacular job.


Another one from Lee says more on the same subject and additionally he makes the same point we have been making for years and pressured Google on. He asks Google to publicly oppose software patents:

Google, whose Android operating system is currently on the business end of dozens of patent lawsuits, has a combative post accusing its competitors of ganging up on it with “bogus patents.”


We are going to write on this subject separately. Google is following the wrong route at this moment -- that which helps Google but not the public from which it craves support. We will address that point in the next post.

Some of the attacks on Google also come from Microsoft's patent troll, Nathan, whose proxies include Lodsys. While we wrote about it many times before (whereas pro-Microsoft lobbyists kept rather quiet about this), it is only now that Charles Arthur pushes it into The Guardian, asking: "Why won't Intellectual Ventures answer questions about its relationship with Lodsys?"

Is ex-Microsoftie Nathan Myrhvold's company getting shell companies like Lodsys to demand payment for software patents? And is there any evidence those patents help innovation in software?


Microsoft boosters at GeekWire and Xconomy defend the Washington-based patent troll that helps Microsoft. No surprise there.

Well, as covered here before, products that people love and care about are being hit by Nathan's satellite proxies, so the public opinion will inevitably change. Gizmodo shows where the trolls are located (sometimes at the same address as other shells, of which Nathan is said to have over 1,300 right now, in order to hide his tracks).

The backlash is everywhere and the FSF thanks NPR for the piece exposing the bad guys:

'This American Life' did some great reporting about software patents. Ask them to help solve these problems and offer the show in patent-free formats.

This American Life is a radio show that airs weekly on public stations throughout the United States. Their most recent episode, “When Patents Attack!”, covers a story that's familiar to many of us. In an hour-long show, they explain what patent trolls do, illustrate how patent litigation and threats hamper software development, and investigate the inner workings of one particularly notorious troll company, Intellectual Ventures.


We already have a detailed wiki page about IV and about other patent trolls from Microsoft (Paul Allen's patent troll is still suing), but some of them use proxies like Lodsys while Groklaw makes an attempt to keep track [1, 2, 3, 4].

The Economist, fuelled by the wide exposure of disturbing news, starts criticising patents:

AMERICA is still in denial, but among economists and wonks I think the hard truth is settling in: we're not as rich as we thought we were and our prospects for future high growth rates aren't looking so great. America's last best hope for breaking free from what Tyler Cowen has called "the great stagnation" is the discovery of new "disruptive" technologies that would transform the possibilities of economic production in the way the fossil-fuel-powered engine did. As it stands, growth, such as it is, depends largely on many thousands of small innovations increasing efficiency incrementally along many thousands of margins. Innovation and invention is the key to continuing gains in prosperity.

Zero-sum "win the future" rhetoric notwithstanding, it doesn't much matter whether the advances in new technology occur in China, India or America. Nevertheless, it remains that America is the world's leader in technical invention, and continues to attract many of the world's most inventive minds. That's why it is so important that America remain especially conducive to innovation. And that's why America's intellectual-property system is a travesty which threatens the wealth and welfare of the whole world. It may seem a recondite subject, but the stakes couldn't be higher.


Mainstream and corporate media backlash against patents is already here. Will this catalyse change? Will software patents be eradicated or just patent trolls? Given that IV staff like Peter Detkin criticised people like himself, they too know that their activities are very much unjust.

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