The Software Patent Troll War—NPR Reports from the Battle Front

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Trolls should stay under bridges where they can only menace billy goats

As some querulous (you know who you are) H&R readers know, I have argued granting patents to inventors has helped speed up technological progress and economic growth. I reiterate that patents were devised chiefly as a way to exit the economically stagnant world of trade secrets. How? By acting as a disclosure mechanism that bribes inventors into telling the rest of us how what they did works which in turn provides insights to help other inventors to develop more beneficial technologies faster. OK, that's the way it's supposed to work, but does it still do so today? 

This week, a truly excellent NPR Planet Money report, When Patents Attack, suggests strongly that patents are far more of a hindrance in software development than a help. The story focuses on Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures which has amassed some 35,000 software patents.

As the NPR story explains the patent problem arose in the 1990s when Federal courts overturned Patent Office rulings against granting software patents. The result was a flood of software patents which are now stoking patent warfare. The NPR report outlines how this warfare is being executed now: 

All the big tech companies have started amassing troves of software patents — not to build anything, but to defend themselves. If a company's patent horde is big enough, it can essentially say to the world, "If you try to sue me with your patents, I'll sue you with mine."

It's mutually assured destruction. But instead of arsenals of nuclear weapons, it's arsenals of patents. And this was a problem Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold said he was trying to solve when he first started the company. A problem that he and others from his company talked about at investor meetings around Silicon Valley. [Venture capital investor] Chris Sacca attended one of those meetings a few years back.

The pitch he heard was, basically, Intellectual Ventures helps defend against lawsuits. Intellectual Ventures has this horde of 35,000 patents — patents that, for a price, companies can use to defend themselves.

Technology companies pay Intellectual Ventures fees ranging "from tens of thousands to the millions and millions of dollars … to buy themselves insurance that protects them from being sued by any harmful, malevolent outsiders," Sacca says.

There's an implication in IV's pitch, Sacca says: If you don't join us, who knows what'll happen?

He says it reminds him of "a mafia-style shakedown, where someone comes in the front door of your building and says, 'It would be a shame if this place burnt down. I know the neighborhood really well and I can make sure that doesn't happen.' "

Sacca continues:

Here's what's funny: When I've seen Nathan speak publicly about this and when I've seen spokespeople from IV they constantly remind us that they themselves don't bring lawsuits, that they themselves aren't litigators, that they are a defensive player. But the truth is the threat of their patent arsenal can't actually be realized, it can't be taken seriously, unless they have that offensive posture, unless they're willing to assert those patents. And so it's this very delicate balancing act that is quite reminiscent of scenes you see in movies when the mafia comes and visits your butcher shop and they say, "Hey, It would be a real shame if they came and sued you. Tell you what: pay us an exorbitant membership fee into our collective and we'll keep you protected that way." A protection scheme isn't credible if some butcher shops don't burn down now and then.

In an email to us, Peter Detkin called the comparison to the mafia "ridiculous and offensive." Detkin wrote:

We're a disruptive company that's providing a way for patent-holders to recognize value that wasn't available before we came on the scene, and we are making a big impact on the market. That obviously makes people uncomfortable. But no amount of name-calling changes the fact that ideas have value. (See Detkin's full response here.)

True enough. But you can see why many people feel like lots of butcher shops have been burning. 

Naturally, Intellectual Ventures has a different interpretation. The NPR story ends: 

In early July, the bankrupt tech company Nortel put its 6,000 patents up for auction as part of a liquidation. A bidding war broke out among Silicon Valley powerhouses. Google said it wanted the patents purely to defend against lawsuits and it was willing to spend over $3 billion to get them. That wasn't enough, though.

The portfolio eventually sold to Apple and a consortium of other tech companies including Microsoft and Ericsson. The price tag: $4.5 billion dollars. Five times the opening bid. More than double what most people involved were expecting. The largest patent auction in history.

That's $4.5 billion on patents that these companies almost certainly don't want for their technical secrets. That $4.5 billion won't build anything new, won't bring new products to the shelves, won't open up new factories that can hire people who need jobs. That's $4.5 billion dollars that adds to the price of every product these companies sell you. That's $4.5 billion dollars buying arms for an ongoing patent war.

The big companies — Google, Apple, Microsoft — will probably survive. The likely casualties are the companies out there now that no one's ever heard of that could one day take their place.

The whole NPR story is very worth your time to read or listen to. 

Earlier this year, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) did a report, Patent Reform: Issues in the Biomedical and Software Industries, [PDF] made the same point about patents encouraging technological innovation that I have made: 

Patents may also provide a more socially desirable outcome than its chief legal alternative, trade secret protection. Trade secrecy guards against the improper appropriation of valuable, commercially useful information that is the subject of reasonable measures to preserve its secrecy. Taking the steps necessary to maintain secrecy, such as implementing physical security and enforcement, imposes costs that may ultimately be unproductive for society. Also, while the patent law obliges inventors to disclose their inventions to the public, trade secret protection requires firms to conceal them. The disclosure obligations of the patent system may better serve the objective of encouraging the diffusion of advanced technological knowledge. Patents may also prevent unproductive expenditures of time and money associated with R&D that duplicates other work.

The patent system thus has dual policy goals—providing incentives for inventors to invent and encouraging inventors to disclose technical information. Disclosure requirements are factors in achieving a balance between current and future innovation through the patent process, as are limitations on scope, novelty mandates, and nonobviousness considerations. Patents often give rise to an environment of competitiveness with multiple sources of innovation, which is viewed by some experts as the basis for technological progress. 

That being said again, the CRS report also noted: 

Not everyone agrees that the patent system is a particularly effective means to stimulate innovation. Some observers believe that the patent system encourages industry concentration and presents a barrier to entry in some markets. They suggest that the patent system often converts pioneering inventors into technological suppressors, who use their patents to block subsequent improvements and thereby impede technological progress Others believe that the patent system too frequently attracts speculators who prefer to acquire and enforce patents rather than engage in socially productive activity such as bringing new products and processes to the marketplace.

It may be that different industries have differing experiences when it comes to the benefits and costs of patents. Ending an already too long post, the CRS reports that biomedical and information technology sectors have divergent views on the role of patents in encouraging innovation and investment: 

Innovators in the biomedical sector tend to see patent protection as a critically important way to prohibit competitors from appropriating the results of a company's research and development efforts. Typically only a few, often one or two, patents cover a particular drug. In contrast, the nature of software development is such that inventions often are cumulative and new products generally embody numerous patentable inventions.

This is an issue I discussed in my column, The Tragedy of the Anti-Commons. Why not adopt patent reform that would take us back to the 1990s before the courts ordered the PTO to grant patents on software?

Again, I highly recommend reading or listening to the whole sobering NPR report, When Patents Attack

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  1. Of course this is Ron Bailey, chronic name forgetter.

      1. Joe M & FofE: Yes, it was I. For reason, the server squirrels have really been targeting me of late. Are the squirrels patented?

  2. Reason recommends NPR report. Ack! Does not compute! Does not compute! Cognitive dissonance to the googleth degree! No wonder you left your name off the post!

    1. Hey Alan, maybe you should stick to reviewing Hackers, or, more your speed, The Lawnmower Man. You identify with Jeff Fahey in that, don’t you. At least, before he gets smart, right?

      1. *SPOILER ALERT*

        Episiarch tries, fails to bait Movie Critic Extraordinaire Alan Vanneman.

      2. Speaking of Hackers, I confess to liking Sneakers.

        1. Sneakers is good, dude. Solid movie. And not completely idiotic like Hackers.

          1. Yet people tell me I’m not allowed to like it. But Evil Gandhi!

    2. Alan, you spelled googol wrong. I shall refrain from commenting on you further…for the time being.

  3. Software patents are bullshit.

    Copyright on code, sure, but no patents.

    [and yes, I oppose both, but within the current system]

    1. I was coming here to say this. You can no more patent software code than Shannon could patent his monographs on Information Theory. (No, he didn’t try.)

    2. The main problem is that software really doesn’t fit well in any of the IP bins: copyright, patent, trade secret. Exacerbating the problem is the PTO’s hiring frankly overwhelmed, if not down right incompetent, people as examiners, resulting in a lot of patents that really shouldn’t have been granted. Problem is, you don’t know how good a patent is until you litigate it, and that’s a lengthy, hideously expensive process.

      Adding a working requirement to patentability might not be a bad idea either.

      And I’m not sure how good a fit the current 20 year from filing date term is for software.

      1. “…if not down right incompetent, people as examiners…”

        Making non-obviousness a moot point, as neither an examiner nor a jury nor a judge are capable of understanding what is obvious. I’ve been hamstrung and wasted too much of various companies money working around obvious SW patents. I’ve also had useful products killed because the cost of workarounds or legal fees would be too high.

        For some curious reason lawyers disagree, since you only need to fight it in court to overcome the obstacles. Yet another govt intrusion in support of large corporations (with lawyers on staff).

      2. You hit on another big problem. The patent system was designed for a slow-paced world of technology.

        As the pace of change picks up, the term of patents needs to shorten accordingly to prevent them from crippling progress based on improving old technologies.

        It might make more sense to create different classes of patents for different fields, with different terms. It might make it easier to kill whole classes with one swoop of the legislative pen, as well.

  4. Wait, IP causes problems? NO WAY.

    1. Yes way. Property is wrong and should be abolished.

      1. Strawman troll is made of straw.

        1. No, no, dude. Bitter, jealous stalker troll is bitter, jealous, and stalky.

        2. So much straw, so few matches.

        3. Not really a strawman.

          If patents did not exist why can’t i make up my own sales and use contracts with the sale of own products?

          I can create sales and use contracts (easements, covenants and restrictions, home owners associations) when I sell land….why should a toaster or a piece of software be any different?

          1. You can. But then there’s no protection against reverse engineering or independent creation, which is what the whole trade secret/patent trade-off addresses. Sure, you can license a product in a certain way, or restrict its use, but that doesn’t guarantee an exclusive right to sell and market the product, because somebody who neither buys nor uses your product could come up with the same thing and then subsequently sell it. With a patent, they’re on notice, and can’t do that.

    2. You must have annoyed your oh-so-mysterious stalker something good, Epi. I especially like its current email address. “Pissoff-dickhead@creeps.com”! PWND!

      1. I pull the strings and the puppet dances, dude! PWWNNNDDDDDDDD!!!

        1. So when are you changing your screen name to Mr. PwnJangl0rzed?

  5. If anyone was wondering why people are getting patents for “inventing” bubble sort and such (last story):

    http://thedailywtf.com/Article…..e-You.aspx

    1. TRWTF is the CIA interview.

  6. Sort of reminds me of the various law firms trying to patent simple tax strategies – so they can try to sue you later for giving common tax solutions that every practitioner in the country would know.

    1. You would think that the printed publication rule would apply, or that it would be trivial to demonstrate that the strategy was prior art, or was obvious in light of the prior art. Goes back to my statement about overworked patent examiners letting a lot of crap through that shouldn’t be there.

  7. Fuck IP

    This kinda shit is as old as the “invention” of intellectual “property”.

  8. As some querulous (you know who you are) H&R readers know, I have argued granting patents to inventors has helped speed up technological progress and economic growth. I reiterate that patents were devised chiefly as a way to exit the economically stagnant world of trade secrets.

    I have to dig deep down in my remaining brain cells to find, but software engineer Michael Abrash wrote the counter to that a few decades back. Often he would find himself convinced that
    accomplishing a certain task was impossible given he was intimately familiar with the chips he worked with as only a master (possibly the best) assembly programmer can be. So he would not even bother an attempt at the problem. Then a rival engineer, or software team would publish or demonstrate a solution for the problem, and he would find himself compelled to tackle it for his own intellectual curiosity, and most importantly improve on the solution. If the other team was granted a patent on the exclusive application of their methodology to the problem, then further development is effectively stifled.

  9. “Patents may also provide a more socially desirable outcome than its chief legal alternative, trade secret protection.”

    Seems like 2nd Amendment rights to. me. Just because some people will use guns to commit crimes–doesn’t mean gun ownership isn’t a net benefit to society.

    “Some observers believe that the patent system encourages industry concentration and presents a barrier to entry in some markets.”

    Pointing out that patents present barriers to entry is like pointing out the wetness of water.

    You mean only the patent holder has the rights to produce what’s patented and license those patents?!

    How shocking!

    1. Oh, I’d like to point out too that the need to get around someone’s patent grounded market barrier can be an impetus for innovation too.

      Right off the top of my head, the adoption of iPods and Napster were a function of getting around copyright law. That’s an example of copyright holders from the music industry, Hollywood and the judicial system rethinking the way copyrighted material was understood, defended and offered for sale.

      I’d throw out that we may see the same thing happen with 3-D printers, which are getting to be pretty damn cheap. I eventually had to sell my favorite car ever (’64 convertible Plymouth Fury, with a stock 383 Commando with…) because getting parts was just so damn hard and expensive…

      With 3-D printers and huge databases of cad files, people printing themselves off spare parts is gonna erode the enforceability of all sorts of patents. Regardless of how courts rule on those cad designs, patent holders will be under more pressure to make their patents available for less…

      Just like the music industry buckled to pressure to make music available for download digitally–and pricing the music per song rather than jacking us for the whole album. …and that happened despite the music industry winning the legal battle against Napster.

      Which is to say that patents and copyrights may be a barrier to entry–but no such barrier is insurmountable over the long haul.

      1. 3D printing is so ridiculously price deflationary. MUST. HAVE. ONE.

        1. I hate to sound like a sci-fi geek, but it’s like the beginnings of the replicator technology on Star Trek.

          It’s freaking replicator technology!

          And it’s so hard to find parts for certain motorcycles and things! And being able to print stuff like that out from your desktop–that’s gonna be huge.

          You’d think everybody would be talking about it. It just hasn’t found a killer application yet. …one that hits consumers right where they say–I need something that 3-D printers do. It’ll probably find its way into classic car shops and motorcycle repair places, Victorian home restoration–stuff like that first.

          There were parts on my ’64 Fury that didn’t exist for any other model. I would think someone could make a bundle by just selling things like freeze plugs and motor mounts and stuff for classic cars.

          There’ll be a huge patent case though. Hopefully the auto parts manufacturers will take a cue from the whole Napster experience and just do it themselves. If I can go to Vans or Converse and order customized shoe designs and have them shipped to me, you’d think auto parts manufacturers could do the same thing with 3-D printers and auto parts.

          1. If a 3-D printer can print off a carbon steel suction valve with the same strength and material properties as a forged product, I will bow down before it. Up until now, i’ve only seen 3-D printers that can replicate the “look” of something, but with nowhere near the material properties needed.

            1. Makes me want to go study materials engineering!

              I don’t know much about that stuff, but now that you mention it, I suppose there probably are some limitations based on materials–when the strength of the material is due to a process that can’t be replicated through printing.

              That should still leave the door open for a lot of things though.

              Motorcycle and car parts–maybe not.

          2. 3D printers don’t yet make metal objects very well. There’s also other issues to consider, but they aren’t really ready for one of manufacture of durable goods at the moment.

            But give them some time.

            1. err, “one off”

      2. the adoption of iPods were a function of getting around copyright law.

        Yeah cuz being able to hold 18 trillion billion songs on a device that weighed only a few ounces and had no moving parts didn’t help sell the iPod at all.

        1. iPods came into existence after Napster.

          Napster was a practical circumvention of market barriers based on copyrights.

          Jobs was especially well positioned to offer the music industry a legal alternative to Napster–because as the force behind Pixar at the time, he was all about copyrights in his movies and he understood the computer industry better than they did.

          But the iPod was late to the scene. I had my first mp3 player years before there was an iPod. The iPod only came into existence as a superior alternative to the mp3 players people already had–and as a viable alternative to Napster once Napster stopped functioning in the way it had.

          Hence, the iPod (and iTunes) were ultimately a substitute for Napster–once the traditional copyright based barrier to entry had already been thoroughly subverted by Napster.

          So, make no mistake. The iPod was certainly better than the mp3 players that came before it–but it only came into existence after the music industry’s copyright protected market barriers had been subverted by other mp3 players and Napster.

          Hell, Napster’s effect was even greater than just the music industry too! A lot of the early consumer adoption of broadband was driven by consumers who wanted high speed access to Napster. Some of it was driven by the opportunity to do online gaming–but that broadband for gamers market? I don’t think that was as big as the broadband market for Napster.

          Circumventing those kinds of market barriers can be a huge driver for innovation. Like what the fax machine and email did to the postal service.

  10. Leaving aside the strict IP issue, the analogy of Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures to the Mafia is seriously flawed. A more apt analogy is to a security company. Both the Mafia and the security company protect, but one “protects” you from itself, the other protects you from external threats. Unless Myhrvold’s company is initiating patent suits on companies that have not initiated their own patent suits first, I can’t see any reason to fault them.
    In what respect is Intellectual Ventures different from a private fire department, private insurance company, or private security service?

    1. good points, i agree.

    2. BI: That’s exactly what is being claimed in the NPR story:

      This brings us back to Chris Crawford’s patent, the patent Intellectual Ventures cited as an example of how they encourage innovation by ensuring that inventors get paid. As we’ve said, this patent also seems to cover a big chunk of what happens on the Internet: upgrading software, buying stuff online, and what’s called cloud storage. If you have a patent on all that, you could sue a lot of people.

      And, in fact, that’s what’s happening with Chris Crawford’s patent. Intellectual Venures sold it to a company called Oasis research in June of 2010. Less than a month later, Oasis Research used the patent to sue over a dozen different tech companies, including Rackspace, GoDaddy, and AT&T….

      We did find one key detail about Oasis Research. It was in a legal document called a Certification of Interested Parties, which lists all the entities with a financial interest in Oasis. Tom Ewing, an intellectual property lawyer who makes a business of tracking IV, brought it to our attention.

      The Oasis document lists the usual parties ? the plaintiff, the defendants, the attorneys involved. But it also includes one other name: Intellectual Ventures.

      Peter Detkin, an attorney who co-founded Intellectual Ventures with Nathan Myhrvold, told us that IV likely has a “back-end arrangement” with Oasis.

      In other words, Detkin said, “We sell for some amount of money up front, and we get some percentage of the royalty stream down the road that is generated from these assets.”

      That means it’s likely that Intellectual Ventures is taking a cut of whatever money Oasis gets from its lawsuits. Oasis is a company with no operations, no products, and, as far as we can tell, no employees, that is using a very broad patent from 1998 to sue over a dozen companies.

      As I said, I think you’d finding reading the whole story worth your while.

      1. Ron:

        “As I said, I think you’d finding reading the whole story worth your while.” Yep, you did, and I hadn’t. Mea culpa.

    3. b/c IV received $4-5 billion in venture capital and has only made $2 billion in revenue it will have to go on the offensive to appease its backers. and according to the article, it just sued some semiconductor company.

      and none of its thousand patents that it developed in its own labs have been made commercially available. so not only is it a piece of shit NPE, it’s THE piece of shit NPE.

  11. Let the software-geek deluge begin.

    I’ve written some fairly complicated code that sits under some byzantine processes, but I wouldn’t ever consider having a patent. It’s all internal software anyways.

    1. it’s all ball bearings these days.

  12. As I’ve said before, I’m pro-IP, but only prolimited IP. Like six or seven notches down from where it is today. I don’t agree at all with criminalizing infringement, nor do I think the extended duration of patent or, more especially, copyright makes any sense.

    1. Oh, and no software or business-process patents as a general rule (or maybe at all).

    2. I don’t believe the practical term of patents have been increased since 1952. 17 years after grant is practically the same as 20 years after filing, given the PTO’s at times glacial speed.

      Copyright terms, OTOH, you’re right as rain about. Utterly ridiculous how we’ve let Disney completely pimp out the entire system. Go back to 30+30 with automatic reversion to the author or heirs after the first term.

      Of course, I’m not king, so this isn’t going to happen.

      1. Copyright terms are only technically for a limited duration now, and I think the life + 70/120 years term is waaaay too long. Remember, the justification for copyright is in the Constitution: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” We’re far past the point where the term is an incentive to the creation of new works.

        With patents, twenty years might be reasonable in some cases. Biotech, for instance. The real problem with patents is that patents are granted for many, many things that are really not novel. And defending against patent trolls with questionable patents is a hugely expensive endeavor.

        1. Part of the problem for copyright terms was that we imported that idiotic life of the author nonsense from Berne. At least we didn’t bring along the rest of the droit morale nonsense. If we’d have stopped at the life of the author, that’d be one thing, but the SCOTUS really dropped the ball in Eldred. Life + 70 (or 120 from creation) is insane, and in no way was contemplated as a reasonable “limited” time at the time of the Framers.

          I agree with you on your points about lack of novelty and the perniciousness of patent trolls. The latter is why I’d support some sort of working requirement in order to have standing to sue for infringement or to seek a FTC import injunction. Perhaps changing the standard of review for patent claim construction to abuse of discretion, rather than de novo, would help cut down the cost of litigation? As it is, when many of your cases get automatically appealed to the Fed. Cir., it’s going to drive up the cost. Further, until the USPTO changes their focus from granting borderline patents to disallowing the application (and thereby cutting off any further maintenance fees from that application/granted patent), you’re going to have a lot of shitty patents flooding the marketplace.

          A problem is that the stakes in patent litigation can be so damn Draconian. It’s not even the treble damages so much as the injunction being able to kill an entire product line. I’m not sure how you get around that, while still protecting an inventor’s right to profit from their limited monopoly. Perhaps a mandatory licensing scheme? Which brings with it its own set of problems…

        2. Also the fact that they retroactively extended copyrights that were already granted kind blows away the whole pretense that there is any kind of actual utilitarian trade off between invention and limited-time monopolies going on. Its the same as all other monopoly grants, monopolist get monopoly power, politicians get relected, and the rest of us get screwed.

  13. Title:

    Method of swinging on a swing
    United States Patent 6368227

    Abstract:

    A method of swing on a swing is disclosed, in which a user positioned on a standard swing suspended by two chains from a substantially horizontal tree branch induces side to side motion by pulling alternately on one chain and then the other.

    Here

    1. Nonobvious! I love it! [Stamps “Approved!”]

  14. This week, a truly excellent NPR Planet Money report, When Patents Attack, suggests strongly that patents are far more of a hindrance in software development than a help.

    There’s also a good reply given by Stephan Kinsella on Brian Doherty’s comments about IP and Libertarianism:

    http://www.stephankinsella.com…..th-throes/

    The utilitarian case for IP is flawed on many counts: there is no good evidence that it does what its proponents say, namely create net wealth due to incentivizing more innovation and creativity (and the burden of proof is on them); there are methodological problems with such arguments anyway (utility cannot be measured or interpersonally added or subtracted); and it’s immoral to take money from a rich guy and give it to a poor guy just because the latter values it “more” (and it’s wrong for a desperate guy to rape a hooker, even if you argue he gets “more” out of it than she suffers).

    The creation case for IP is also flawed. Standard libertarian-Lockean principles already specify who owns a given scarce resource: its homesteader, or someone who can trace their title back to it.

    […]

    If you rework your own property into a more valuable design then you already own the resulting item; no new property rights are created. You owned your property before you rearranged it and you own the rearranged property too.

    To grant someone property rights in the pattern of the object has to mean granting them partial property rights over the property over everyone else in the world?the right to veto certain uses of that property. But of course that property is already owned by third parties, in accordance with libertarian-Lockean property-assignemnt principles; so granting veto rights to the “pattern creators” is nothing but a transfer of property rights from existing owners to pattern creators favored by the state.

  15. As usual, blame Congress. Congress could easily remove software (and business methods) from the list of patentable items, but they haven’t. The courts have upheld those patents because Congress has written the current patent laws to permit almost anything to be patented. Until Congress acts, the courts can’t do much to trim it back.

  16. The Supreme Court could and should have stopped the worst misuses of IP by finding for Eldred. But they’ve sold out.

  17. I have argued before that if we are to have software patents then the period of protection should reflect the pace of change in that industry.

    Not seventeen years but—lets say—36 months. That’s long enough to give you every chance of being first to market with enough time to establish a real presence (and the big strategic advantage that implies), but short enough to not hobble everyone else if you don’t do something with your good idea.

    1. That could work pretty well.

  18. intellectual property is an oxymoron and most patents are worthless garbage. They aren’t novel and they are totally obvious. If they actually are nonobvious because they claim something people can’t do yet, they it was usually just some jackass bullshitting the patent office with a prophetic guess at something he can’t reduce to practice but wants dibs on when someone else actually does figure it out. And software patents are the most ridiculous because there is never anything nonobvious about software. That’s why it is called development not research.

    The whole system is a game to generate fees for the govt by selling monopolies of intellectual “turf” to the first person to pony up the bribe.

    ok I’m done.

  19. Software patents remain unpopular. But instead of advocating for getting rid of software patents altogether, perhaps concerned parties should begin discussions on how to create a software patent that works for developers. For instance, instead of the usual costly, 20-year patent, maybe it’s time for an inexpensive, limited, 5-year software patent that reflects software’s low overhead and rapid obsolescence? Some other countries offer multi-tiered patent systems; I think it’s time the U.S. started discussions in that area.
    http://www.generalpatent.com/blog/

  20. Appsterdam founder Mike Lee just announced the Appsterdam Legal Defense Fund: http://mur.mu.rs/?p=303

  21. These patient issues are a bunch of garbage at this point. All the companies are trying to blame other companies for the “look” of things. At this point everything is going to start looking the same because of demand for certain attributes.

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