The Meteoric Ascent of the Patent Troll

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by Prof_Pixel, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    "Trollin', trollin' down the river"
     
  3. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    The only difference now is that it is happening a lot faster, and someone else is able to track it and post a graph showing the "dramatic increase." Not certain where their data came from for the graph, and the study quoted is based on a lot of estimates. Estimates and extrapolation can tell us anything we want to know. Ain't it grand! :laugh:
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    What did Eli Whitney say to his wife?













    Keep your cotton pickin' hands off my gin!
     
  5. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    Ahhh humankind, so much potential...
     
  6. Yashinoff

    Yashinoff Member

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    The problems with every kind of scheme to monopolize patents is that A: eventually the patents run out and become worthless. B: new patents are created ad infinitum. C: most patents are for basically worthless innovations.

    Ansco BTW bought the Goodwin patents for roll film, and successfully sued Kodak for infringement, even though so far as I know Ansco themselves had infringed on the patents before acquiring them.

    GM went bankrupt once because Durant would ceaselessly buy up ever automobile related patent he could find.
     
  7. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    It's hard to measure the real impact of these processes on innovation, because we have no good metric for how much innovation is happening. You can count patents, but as Yashinoff pointed out, the average patent is no great shakes.

    You could also argue that the huge amounts of money spent on patent acquisitions (whether by trolls or big industry players) actually promote innovation, because they create a market value for patents in addition to the direct value of the invention. But you could also argue that what's encouraged is just the development of cruddy patents intended to be issued, sold, and ignored.

    Everyone involved with the system, I think, agrees that it's kind of screwed up at the moment. The saving grace is that patents *do* expire eventually, and expired patents feed directly into actual productive commerce (look at the generic drug industry; it's not romantic, in a sense it's parasitic on other people's inventions, but it gets a lot of medications to a lot of people at affordable prices).

    The good news is that the patent-troll phenomenon is intrinsically a problem that follows the money. The d*g*t*l photo world may need to worry about it, but I don't think the stakes are high enough in film any more for it to be a real issue for us.

    -NT
     
  8. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    This American Life: When Patents Attack! "We take you inside this war, and tell the fascinating story of how an idea enshrined in the US constitution to promote progress and innovation, is now being used to do the opposite."

    Added: I once worked for a company that was hit by a patent troll. The company fought the troll and won. However, the company was financially crippled by the cost of defending itself against the patent. It cost more to defend against the patent than what the troll wanted. (The company owner went on the war path because the troll had initially asked for amount X, then later bumped it up to amount Y.) One thing to note about having your patent found invalid: you have to pay back all previous settlements. So in this case the troll was down a very deep well, because he had hit up a number of companies previously. (The patent was invalid due to it being misfiled, and the judge also commented that he had never seen so much prior art presented.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2012
  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Patents won't protect you unless you have enough money to defend them. If you hold a solid patent
    and it gets flagrantly violated by someone like WalMart with a legal division bigger than even your resident county can maintain, expect to starve before you see a dime.
     
  10. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Interesting statistic I saw recently was that the cost of patent litigation (lawyers and settlements to trolls) is now greater than the benefits it confers on operating companies. So even if you're actually being innovative and productive and protecting your stuff with patents, the patent-system is a net loss for you. Litigation costs are now apparently averaging about $85bn/year in the US, which is more than a quarter of national R&D spend.