Bonum Certa Men Certa

Stupid Blogs, Stupid Lawsuits, and Stupid Patents

The troll hunter
Original



Summary: The stupidity of the patent microcosm, which would like to see everything in the world patented and which would gleefully smear or even sue its critics (the EFF was sued several times for libel over its "Stupid Patent of the Month" series)

GRANTING patents just for the sake of having more granted patents would be missing the point; that should be obvious. The more patents an office grants in error, the lower the perceived value of all. The EPO ignores such common sense, whereas the USPTO belatedly adopts it. A lot of US patents got invalidated in recent years, many of which after lengthy and expensive court battles. This left the perceived value of many others (tested neither by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board nor the courts) low enough to merit no lawsuit or 'assertion' attempts.



"A lot of US patents got invalidated in recent years, many of which after lengthy and expensive court battles."Patent maximalists aren't happy. Watchtroll is furious and frustrated. It has been posting lots of unrelated cruft/dross lately, not about patents or even so-called 'IP'. But yesterday Mr. Quinn (Watchtroll himself) was once again quote-mining Iancu -- the second time in a week -- to smear the status quo in the gradually-healed US patent system. Mr. Quinn then proceeded to his latest attack on judges, courts etc. The headline this time around (yesterday) was: "Did the Supreme Court intentionally destroy the U.S. patent system?"

He has been producing many headlines like this, especially in recent weeks. It is becoming rather laughable at this stage. An outsider who isn't from the patent microcosm might as well say, "what a stupid blog!"

To us, Watchtroll has always been like the 'Fox News' of the patent microcosm.

Speaking of stupid blogs, how about Patently-O, which has been feeding Watchtroll with links? As it turns out, there's a stupid new lawsuit against the USPTO. "Hyatt has filed a new mandamus action against the USPTO," Patently-O said yesterday, "as the next step in the 40+ year battle over his microcomputer patent applications. Hyatt has over 300 patents applications pending before the USPTO."

"To us, Watchtroll has always been like the 'Fox News' of the patent microcosm."So what? Anyone can submit an application. That doesn't mean anything. Patently-O recently gave attention also to a publicity stunt class-action lawsuit over PTAB. If it suits Patently-O's agenda, then hey, why the heck not?

Last but not least, in light of Facebook's history of patent aggression, the EFF's Joe Mullin has just announced the latest "Stupid Patent of the Month," alluding to "poor-quality Internet patents" from Facebook. As Mullin put it:

Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it will wedge its way into an already-crowded corner of online commerce. The social networking site plans to use its giant storehouse of personal data to create a dating service, promising to help users find “meaningful relationships,” not just “hookups,” as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put it.

It remains to be seen whether Facebook’s new service be a “Tinder-killer” that users flock to, or a flop for a company that’s long been beset with privacy concerns. But there’s one thing Facebook, its competitors, and its detractors should all be able to agree on. When a new dating service launches, it should rise or fall based on whether it can win the trust of users—not an arbitrary race to the Patent Office.

Unfortunately, well before it built and launched an actual dating service, Facebook engaged in just such a race. The company applied for a stupid patent on “social dating” back in 2013, and earlier this year, the Patent Office granted the application.

[...]

To be fair to Facebook, the company may have felt compelled to get its own stupid patent because there are so many other stupid online dating patents out there. In a phenomenon that’s the patent equivalent of “mutually assured destruction,” many tech companies have stockpiled poor-quality Internet patents simply to have a threat to fight off other companies’ poor-quality Internet patents. This arms race, of course, costs many millions of dollars and benefits no one other than patent system insiders.

In the world of online dating, wasteful, anti-competitive patent litigation isn’t just theoretical. Earlier this year, Match Group sued up-and-comer Bumble for patent infringement. The suit was brought shortly after Match reportedly tried to purchase Bumble. And in 2015, Jdate sued Jswipe, accusing their competitor of infringing U.S. Patent No. 5,950,200, which tried to claim the idea of notifying people that they “feel reciprocal interest for each other.” It was a basic patent that sought to encompass just about the whole concept of a dating service.


We cannot stress strongly enough that we're not against patents; we are pro patent quality. We believe that the number of patents should be limited based on strict scope and merit thresholds. Sites like Watchtroll, on the other hand, want us to believe the lie that the more patents get granted, the better off innovation will be. In practice, overpatenting has the exact opposite effect. People who are genuinely interested in innovation and contribute to innovation often ask for restrictions on patent scope, fearing the prospect of unwanted lawsuits.

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