patent trolls

Abolishing patents: Too soon or too late?

patent stop sign

"Patents are here to stay." This is the sort of statement that makes me uneasy. I guess in the 17th century the common wisdom was "slavery is here to stay." In the 18th century giving voting rights to women seemed absurd and foreseeing open borders between France and German was crazy talk in 1945. At a certain point, fortunately, those things changed for the better. Is it time to change the common wisdom on patents as well? Is the time ripe—will it ever be?—to utter the frightening word abolition? I do not have the privilege to know the answer, but I regard the question as a legitimate one. According to some patent experts, however, questioning the very existence of patents seems blasphemous. » Read more

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Software patents: The talk of 2012

Open law year in review

Looking back over the law channel posts of 2012, I was not surprised to see that software patents were a major concern. The high volume of significant patent lawsuits of competitors and rising levels of NPE (aka patent trolls or patent assertion entities) suits has been the subject of both open source community and mainstream media interest.

There were new ideas on patent reform, and an increasing recognition by the public at large that software patents can hinder innovation. We also saw interesting developments in the areas of internet privacy and freedom and copyright law. I'll go out on a limb and make a prediction: » Read more

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What to do about the "patent troll" problem

Patent troll

A new report titled An Overview of the "Patent Trolls" Debate [PDF] is a balanced but ultimately devastating indictment of "patent trolls." It was prepared by the Congressional Research Service for members of Congress, who could actually do something about the "troll" problem. It's a useful primer for those new to the area. » Read more

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Infographic: How patents hinder innovation

How patents hinder innovation

Patents may have been created to help encourage innovation, but instead they regularly hinder it. The US Patent Office, overwhelmed and underfunded, issues questionable patents every day. "Patent trolls" buy too many of these patents and then misuse the patent system to shake down companies big and small. Others still use patents to limit competition and impede access to new knowledge, tools, or other innovations. » Read more

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Infographic: "When Patents Attack!" from patent good to patent profiteering

The problem with patents

This week FrugalDad posted an infographic about how the patent system has reacted to the rapid pace of technology, inspired by the "When Patents Attack!" episode of NPR's This American Life.

As he writes in the graphic, patents were imagined as a way to "promote the progress of science and useful arts," but they've become a path to litigation instead. See how we went from "the right idea" (even the high-fiving robot arm) to "patent profitteers" and the "selfless innovator." » Read more

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Patent reform and patent totalitarianism

Patent reform and patent totalitarianism

Touted as the most extensive revision of the patent law since 1952, the America Invents Act of 2011 was signed by the President on September 16. You might think in light of the celebration and rhetoric, that the Act was tackling the big problems such as patent trolls, broad and abstract patents, the billions squandered in the smartphone wars, or opportunistic litigation against users. You might think that. But you would be wrong. » Read more

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The huge societal costs of NPE software patent lawsuits

Ginormous losses from NPE software patent lawsuits

Innovative software companies start each work day knowing that, no matter how careful and how ethical they are, they face a meaningful risk of being sued for patent infringement. It's like a tooth ache – painful and distracting, even when not debilitating. A major source of this pain is non-practicing entities (NPEs), which are expert at acquiring and exploiting weak software patents. While this is not hot news to the open source community, the enormous financial harm caused by NPEs is just starting to be understood. » Read more

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Going after a troll for barratry

Some time ago, at the very beginning of opensource.com, I wrote a post on the possibility of using some archaic forms of law – champerty, barratry and maintenance – against patent trolls. And lo and behold someone is taking a run at it, although against a copyright troll, not a patent troll. » Read more

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