09.03.10

Gemini version available ♊︎

The Truth About Thomas Edison and New Species of Patent Trolls

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thomas Edison

Summary: A look back at very abusive behaviour from a patent office icon; new critique of the patent process

WHEN most people hear the name Thomas Edison they think of a great scientist and inventor, not a ruthless businessman. Edison was somewhat of a raider, who became legendary for the number of patents he had amassed. Just how inventive was he really? Well, actually, he had the habit of taking other people’s ideas and claiming credit/monopoly for them after slight modifications. Edison essentially hacked the patent office, just like some of today’s patent trolls. This is a subject which we alluded to before [1, 2].

Edison probably deserves to be remembered as a shrewd businessman (like Bill Gates and his publicity/taxation tricks), not an icon of scientific ingenuity. Ars Technica has this new article about Edison and it’s far from flattering.

Thomas Edison’s plot to hijack the movie industry

[...]

But what ultimately did the Edison monopoly in was the assumption that its legal/technological dominance over the trade, and its moral stance, would trump the public’s demand for ever more creative motion pictures. Unlike the independents, the MPCC system did not invest in its network. Consumers would simply have to watch Edison Trust fare, the monopoly’s principals figured.

[...]

Thus the Edison Trust was sunk, even before a federal court agreed with prosecutors that the Patents Company and General Film had broken every antitrust principle in the book, “terrorizing exchanges and exhibitors” and driving away competitors by “arbitrary, oppressive, and high-handed methods.”

The sage took his defeat like a good sport. He was, after all, still America’s beloved inventor. At the end of the conflict, Edison dropped by to dedicate Universal’s new all-electric movie studio, now located in a pleasant southern California town called Hollywood.

Take heed, tech giants of today. Some of your companies or services aren’t much older than the Edison Trust was when it collapsed. How much of your current business strategy is based on offering new and original products, and how much of it is based on laws, courts, and the fact that you got there first?

“Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure,” Thomas Edison once warned. He ought to know.

Slashdot has this new entry right now — one that’s titled “A New Species of Patent Troll” even though it covers a differently titled piece on a disturbing drama around patents and marking.

Patents have a life span of 17 or 20 years. To keep them valid, companies must pay maintenance fees every four years. Once they expire, the holder is expected to remove the numbers from products.

Why go through all this trouble? Is there truly an economic benefit to society as a whole? Similar questions ought to be asked about CIIs/software patents, which increasingly bring Edison-like abusers to the field of programming. The problem is, the lobbyists from the United States try to expand these to Europe, triggering reactions of many who saw and learned from the errors of the USPTO. Just days ago the president of the FFII spotted some nice short propaganda containing the word “technical” 45 times at a high level of density, e.g.:

However, it is often difficult to separate a claim into technical and non-technical features, and an invention may have technical aspects which are hidden in a largely non-technical context

“Technical” is one of those words that are used excessively by lawyers (another one is “invention”) to justify their paperwork and outrageous fees that they extract from work of actual creators.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

2 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    September 3, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Gravatar

    The Ars piece was interesting but it was written like a Rorschach test. People who are keeping up with the non free software patent apocalypse will see lessons for Microsoft, Apple and Oracle. People listening to Microsoft’s weekly “screw Google” meeting will read, “We have here an object lesson that the Internet empires of our time ought to consider.” and think of Google. It’s pretty clear who the modern, clueless patent abusers are, so why does Ars obfuscate and fail to name them?

    Google has mostly been the target of bogus lawsuits. A quick search for “Google patent lawsuit” at Yahoo (Bing) turns up no lawsuit launched by Google. That’s based on the summaries because the articles Bing turns up are all from sites so Microsoft dominated that they don’t work with the 3.5 branch of Konqueror.

    There are other historical examples of USPTO abuse retarding industry but nothing compares to the software patent fraud. Glass bottle companies are probably the worst, where there were only two makers of glass bottle machines in the US which ruthlessly controlled bottling companies that were, in turn, equally ruthless monopolies like Coke. The two machine companies had a web of patents they used against everyone else and each other. Automobile patents have been mentioned here and elswhere recently. Few of the patents abused by those companies are as ridiculous as the flood of business method patents created by the State Street decision that made a loophole for business method patents implemented by computer. Because computers are essential to all business today, the tax on society and audacity of the non free software fraud is much greater than the burden imposed by any single abusive industry of a century ago.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Coke is now masquerading under more brand names, marketing these as “organic” for about 10 times the cost.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 16/10/2021: Xubuntu 21.10 and DearPyGui 1.0.0

    Links for the day



  2. DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  3. Post About Whether Vivaldi is a GPL violation Was Quietly Knifed by the Mods of /r/uBlockOrigin in Reddit

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  4. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIII: Battistelli's Iberian Facilitators - Spain

    The EPO‘s António Campinos is an ‘Academy’ of overt nepotism; what Benoît Battistelli did mostly in France Campinos does in Spain and Portugal, severely harming the international image of these countries



  5. From Competitive (Top-Level, High-Calibre, Well-Paid) Jobs to 2,000 Euros a Month -- How the EPO is Becoming a Sweatshop by Patent Examiners' Standards

    A longish video about the dreadful situation at the EPO, where staff is being ‘robbed’ and EPO funds get funnelled into some dodgy stock market investments (a clear violation of the institution’s charter)



  6. [Meme] Protecting European Patent Courts From EPO 'Mafia'

    With flagrant disregard for court rulings (or workarounds to dodge actual compliance) it seems clear that today's EPO management is allergic to justice and to judges; European Patents perish at unprecedented levels in national European courts and it should be kept that way



  7. Links 15/10/2021: Pine64's New PinePhone Pro and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Codename

    Links for the day



  8. [Meme] GitHub Isn't Free Hosting, It's All About Control by Microsoft

    Deleting GitHub isn’t a political statement but a pragmatic decision, seeing how Microsoft routinely misuses its control over GitHub to manipulate the market



  9. With EPO 'Strike Regulations' Belatedly Ruled Unlawful, EPO Management May be Lowering the Salary Even Further by Introducing Outside 'Temps' or Casual Workers

    Institutional capture by an 'IP' (litigation) Mafia is nearly complete; with illegal so-called (anti) 'Strike Regulations' out the door, they're quickly moving on to another plan, or so it seems on the surface



  10. Links 15/10/2021: 95% of Ransomware Targets Windows

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, October 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, October 14, 2021



  12. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XII: The French Connection

    The EPO‘s presidency (led by Frenchmen for nearly 15 years out of the past 18 years; Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos are both French despite their somewhat misleading surnames) is extremely unlikely to even be mildly scrutinised by the French delegates because of a web of nepotism and protectionism



  13. [Meme] Another Maladministration Meeting Comes to an End

    Did the EPO‘s overseeing body properly tackle Benoît Battistelli‘s illegal acts, authorised by that very same overseeing body? Don’t hold your breath as António Campinos continues to crack down on staff (maybe ILOAT will rule on it in 2030)



  14. Links 14/10/2021: LibreOffice 7.2.2, Happy Birthday to Jolla, Ubuntu 21.10, Devuan GNU+Linux 4.0, OpenBSD 7.0

    Links for the day



  15. [Teaser] What Miguel de Icaza Really Thinks of the CEO of Microsoft GitHub

    Following the opening of a new series about Microsoft GitHub we drop a little teaser today; we expect dozens of parts to be released in the coming weeks/months as facts are being validated and organised



  16. Splitting the Time to Cover More Leaks and Exposés

    We take stock of Part 11 of the ongoing EPO series (“EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion”) and explain what caused various delays yesterday; we may have to up our pace a little in order to keep up with an influx of leaks and whistleblowers



  17. [Meme] Destroying the Workplace

    The working conditions at the EPO continue to worsen under the António Campinos regime, perpetuating the decade-long 'demolition project' of Benoît Battistelli and his cohorts in the complicit Administrative CouncilThe working conditions at the EPO continue to worsen under the António Campinos regime, perpetuating the decade-long 'demolition project' of Benoît Battistelli and his cohorts in the complicit Administrative Council



  18. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists

    Today we commence a new series that implicates Microsoft, GitHub, Copilot, and Team Mono



  19. EPO Management Tricks EPO Staff Into Taking More Paycuts

    “Education and childcare reform” [sic] is an António Campinos "reform" in the same sense regressive salary reductions are just “adjustments” (euphemism); Electronic opt-in gaffes, according to staff representatives, show that the tradition of Benoît Battistelli carries on at the Office, taking away from staff for a few corrupt officials to milk the institution to death



  20. Links 14/10/2021: Whisker Menu 2.6.1 and KDE's Birthday

    Links for the day



  21. Links 14/10/2021: DragonFly 6.0.1 Released and Red Hat Loses Another Top Executive

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, October 13, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, October 13, 2021



  23. Süddeutsche Zeitung Became a Propaganda Arm of EPO Management (and by Extension Software Patents/Patent Lobbyists)

    EPO ‘genius’ António Campinos enjoys shallow press coverage, which echoes or resembles Benoît Battistelli‘s corruption of the media (paid-for fluff)



  24. GNOME (and Debian) Infringe Human Rights by Shipping Parental Control Software (Internally Called “Malcontent”)

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  25. No, JWZ, Discord is Not “IRC With Pictures”

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  26. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XI: “General Bock” - Battistelli's Swiss Apprentice?

    The António Campinos-led EPO won’t be subjected to real oversight by the Administrative Council, which ‘met’ (online) earlier today; so we look at who in the Administrative Council did what; today we wrap up the parts about Switzerland (third part of three)



  27. Links 13/10/2021: Sparky 2021.10 and New Archcraft

    Links for the day



  28. Links 13/10/2021: Firefox Keylogger on (By Default), GNOME Platform Design Discussed

    Links for the day



  29. [Meme] [Teaser] Swiss Alexandre Benallas

    The EPO‘s French dictator, Benoît ‘Vichy’ Battistelli, might be relieved to hear that his enabler in the adjacent Switzerland also enlisted armed bullies to keep the population down (the father of António Campinos might know a thing or two about those; it’s why he fled to France)



  30. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 12, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 12, 2021


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts