Patent 'trolls' hit Apple with 171 lawsuits in last 5 years

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  • Reply 21 of 45
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    sockrolid wrote: »
    Last time I checked, I read that a "patent troll" <span style="font-family:sans-serif;line-height:19px;">is "a person or company who enforces patent </span>
    <span style="font-family:sans-serif;line-height:19px;">rights against accused infringers </span>
    <span style="font-family:sans-serif;line-height:19px;">in an attempt to collect licensing fees</span>
    <span style="font-family:sans-serif;line-height:19px;">, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question," according to Wikipedia.  (Emphasis mine.)  And yeah, you might say that Apple manufactures quite a few products and supplies quite a few services based upon the patents they protect in court.</span>

    So what? The owner of the patent might have lots of reasons not to practice it. For example, let's say I invent an improvement that makes nuclear power plants more efficient. Do I have to build a nuclear power plant in order to protect my invention?

    Or maybe it's as simple as someone being a serial inventor who has no interest in actually running a manufacturing operation. He might choose to sell or license his invention rather than building a factory. Why shouldn't he be able to do so?
  • Reply 22 of 45
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,926member
    jragosta wrote: »
    So what? The owner of the patent might have lots of reasons not to practice it. For example, let's say I invent an improvement that makes nuclear power plants more efficient. Do I have to build a nuclear power plant in order to protect my invention?

    Or maybe it's as simple as someone being a serial inventor who has no interest in actually running a manufacturing operation. He might choose to sell or license his invention rather than building a factory. Why shouldn't he be able to do so?

    While you won't have to build your own nuke plant, you can consult with your patent rather than holding on to it and waiting for someone to do a similar way, then sue the eff out of them. If you don't want to use it, sell it to someone that will.

    Use it or lose it.
  • Reply 23 of 45
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    jungmark wrote: »
    While you won't have to build your own nuke plant, you can consult with your patent rather than holding on to it and waiting for someone to do a similar way, then sue the eff out of them. If you don't want to use it, sell it to someone that will.

    Use it or lose it.

    What do you think an NPE does?

    It really amazes me how so many people who don't have any clue how the system works are so eager to parade their ignorance.
  • Reply 24 of 45
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,109member
    Here's an article about a lawyer, Apple and a "patent troll". . .

    and probably not the kind of article you would expect.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/06/apple-betrayed-by-its-own-law-firm/

    EDIT: PatentlyApple also had an article about Tim Cook's complaints about NPE's and Obama's response to it.
    http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2013/06/tim-cook-complained-about-patent-trolls-in-may-and-today-president-obama-called-on-congress-to-assist-us-tech-companies.html
  • Reply 25 of 45
    Whether you call them NPEs or trolls, the label breaks the relationship between the hard work and insight that's necessary to make an advance, and the reward for it.

    The inventor who came up with intermittent windshield wipers did NOT work for a big car company. He was an NPE who hoped merely to negotiate a fair price for the automakers' use of his work in making a practical wiper.

    Today, tech products are increasingly made by global megacorps, and incorporate tens of thousands of clever inventions. Many of the inventors were on the payroll of one of those big companies, but many were at a small firm or were solo inventors who might have a genius insight that they turn into an effective radio or voice codec, but have nowhere near the ability to produce a smartphone.

    Even some of the most famous inventions and discoveries would be branded as unworthy of patent protection by this classification. Google's patented Page Rank algorithm that finds the most relevant web page? Not so fast, that patent is owned by Stanford University, which AFAICT, doesn't sell web searches to anybody. Stanford is a troll and if anybody sent them a check for $1 (which is what Google paid), then started running searches by that approach, you can be sure they'd have Stanford's lawyers at their door.

    Or how about Dolby Labs? When was the last time you bought a radio or music player from them? Who uses a Fraunhofer MP3 player? SRI International (yes, the shop where Siri originated) developed the voice recognition software that powers Nuance and supposedly, Siri; would you set up laws so that those talents can't monetize their work except if they sell portable voice-recognition computers?

    Intellectual work is the whole reason for the technology surge in the United States, a huge economic boost. A lot of the genius is at small startups, at research groups tied to universities, or in garages, so if we limit patent compensation to just companies big enough to sell the gizmos, we'll shut out a lot of the entrepreneurial spirit that's fired the tech revolution of the last 3 decades.

    None of this is to say that bogus lawsuits over bogus patents are in any way helpful. Just that preventing individual or small-team inventors from being able to profit from their patents would be throwing sand in the gears of invention.
  • Reply 26 of 45
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member


    DO we know how many TROLLS have been banned by AI in the last 5 years? image

  • Reply 27 of 45
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,109member
    waltfrench wrote: »
    None of this is to say that bogus lawsuits over bogus patents are in any way helpful. Just that preventing individual or small-team inventors from being able to profit from their patents would be throwing sand in the gears of invention.

    So if NPE's had some legal restrictions or "rules to play by" in monetizing the IP they snatch up then you'd be fine with that as long as those poor individual inventors got paid a reasonable fee for their inventiveness. After all it's not likely that poor inventor is getting a big cut from the millions in licensing fees the NPE collects.

    IMO the whole "looking out for the little guy" angle is a red herring. When the largest of them all, Intellectual Ventures, made that claim and were challenged to offer examples it was true they only provided one as proof. Guess what? Even the single one they came up with turned out to be a bogus example.
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121218/13395521429/intellectual-ventures-claims-its-misunderstood-its-really-just-trying-to-help-everyone-sift-through-find-good-patents.shtml
  • Reply 28 of 45
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    waltfrench wrote: »
    Whether you call them NPEs or trolls, the label breaks the relationship between the hard work and insight that's necessary to make an advance, and the reward for it.

    The inventor who came up with intermittent windshield wipers did NOT work for a big car company. He was an NPE who hoped merely to negotiate a fair price for the automakers' use of his work in making a practical wiper.

    Today, tech products are increasingly made by global megacorps, and incorporate tens of thousands of clever inventions. Many of the inventors were on the payroll of one of those big companies, but many were at a small firm or were solo inventors who might have a genius insight that they turn into an effective radio or voice codec, but have nowhere near the ability to produce a smartphone.

    Even some of the most famous inventions and discoveries would be branded as unworthy of patent protection by this classification. Google's patented Page Rank algorithm that finds the most relevant web page? Not so fast, that patent is owned by Stanford University, which AFAICT, doesn't sell web searches to anybody. Stanford is a troll and if anybody sent them a check for $1 (which is what Google paid), then started running searches by that approach, you can be sure they'd have Stanford's lawyers at their door.

    Or how about Dolby Labs? When was the last time you bought a radio or music player from them? Who uses a Fraunhofer MP3 player? SRI International (yes, the shop where Siri originated) developed the voice recognition software that powers Nuance and supposedly, Siri; would you set up laws so that those talents can't monetize their work except if they sell portable voice-recognition computers?

    Intellectual work is the whole reason for the technology surge in the United States, a huge economic boost. A lot of the genius is at small startups, at research groups tied to universities, or in garages, so if we limit patent compensation to just companies big enough to sell the gizmos, we'll shut out a lot of the entrepreneurial spirit that's fired the tech revolution of the last 3 decades.

    None of this is to say that bogus lawsuits over bogus patents are in any way helpful. Just that preventing individual or small-team inventors from being able to profit from their patents would be throwing sand in the gears of invention.

    Exactly. The proposal that you must either practice a patent or lose it would completely wipe out small inventors as a source of innovation.
  • Reply 29 of 45
    jragosta wrote: »
    That would be a horrible idea.

    Let's say that your father owns a widget factory and leave it to you in his will. You don't want to make widgets, so you close the factory down. You also don't want to deal with the hassle of trying to find someone to run it or buy it, so you sell it to a real estate investment firm.

    Does the fact that you're not making widgets mean that you have no right to the factory? Should someone who wants to make widgets be able to simply move in and take over your factory since you're not using it? That's exactly what you're advocating in the realm of patents.

    And the real estate investment firm is the equivalent of what people are calling a patent troll. They serve a useful purpose just as NPEs do. An inventor may not want to commercialize the product or may think that he'll get greater value by selling it to someone who has the expertise to get value for the invention. What's wrong with that?

    You totally missed the point. He would still own the factory and the land, so he would still make money by selling the factory and land. And regardless of whether he shut it down and did nothing with the property, he would still own the land and property therein. What he would no longer own would be the the design of the widget itself. Once he stopped producing the widget, he would losing his rights (under the premise that patents should be treated like trademarks) as the exclusive widget maker, thus allowing another company to build a factory across town and produce and sell widgets of the same name.

    Understand? The reasons why patents (arguably) shouldn't be treated like trademarks are numerous, but here are a few:
    1. Not all patents are instantly monetizable (I designed a teleported but the tech to build it is a century away).
    2. Patents may be monetizable, but not by the patent holder, usually because the startup costs for any production venture are too high (I'll have to shop this patent around to a company that can afford to build the product).
    3. Patents may be granted for something that is only part of a whole (I designed a better wheel, but I don't make cars. I'll need time to shop this around to automakers).
  • Reply 30 of 45
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    You totally missed the point. He would still own the factory and the land, so he would still make money by selling the factory and land. And regardless of whether he shut it down and did nothing with the property, he would still own the land and property therein. What he would no longer own would be the the design of the widget itself. Once he stopped producing the widget, he would losing his rights (under the premise that patents should be treated like trademarks) as the exclusive widget maker, thus allowing another company to build a factory across town and produce and sell widgets of the same name.

    Go back and read the many times I've explained the folly of your position.

    What if he doesn't want to make widgets, but the factory is still valuable and is set up so that it's really only good for making widgets?

    By selling it to a real estate investment firm, he can get his money but leave it to the experts to rent it out to a widget manufacturer.

    Your proposal would absolutely destroy innovation in this country - at least as far as small inventors is concerned. The idea that you could invent something, patent it, and then anyone in the world who wanted to make the product could do so simply because you hadn't gotten around to licensing or selling the technology is just plain absurd.
  • Reply 31 of 45
    The term "patent troll" is designed to hide the fact that theft is occurring. "I'm not stealing someone else's intellectual property, a patent troll is after me." and we all know that patent trolls have no rights. Their intellectual property can be stolen and used by anyone with impunity. Is that the thesis being promulgated here?


    Look THIEVES, if I have a patented invention, I am ENTITLED, by law, to be paid if someone want to use it.

    If I chose to sell that right to someone rather than fight the BIG THIEVES in court, - that right to be paid transfers to them. If a BIG THIEF chooses to not pay but just steal the invention and use it and profit from it, then we have recourse to the courts. Of course then the BIG THIEF starts squealing the "patent troll is after me", "protect me from the patent troll while I steal his property".



  • Reply 32 of 45
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member

    Originally Posted by ihor43us View Post


    Look THIEVES, if I have a patented invention, I am ENTITLED, by law, to be paid if someone want to use it.


     


    Right. Except when no theft is occurring, they're called patent trolls.

  • Reply 33 of 45
    arlorarlor Posts: 532member


    It seems weird to say that Apple's increasing its lead when it's actually not #1 in the most recent period. AT&T's ahead this year, and Verizon & HP are a lot closer to Apple than they were in earlier periods.


     


    I guess the headline "Apple solidified its lead as the #1 patent troll target in 2012, then lost it in 2013" is less compelling.

  • Reply 34 of 45
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,109member
    ihor43us wrote: »
    The term "patent troll" is designed to hide the fact that theft is occurring. "I'm not stealing someone else's intellectual property, a patent troll is after me." and we all know that patent trolls have no rights. Their intellectual property can be stolen and used by anyone with impunity. Is that the thesis being promulgated here?


    Look THIEVES, if I have a patented invention, I am ENTITLED, by law, to be paid if someone want to use it.

    If I chose to sell that right to someone rather than fight the BIG THIEVES in court, - that right to be paid transfers to them. If a BIG THIEF chooses to not pay but just steal the invention and use it and profit from it, then we have recourse to the courts. Of course then the BIG THIEF starts squealing the "patent troll is after me", "protect me from the patent troll while I steal his property".

    Is that what you really think Apple is doing when Tim Cook complains about "patent trolls"? Have you spent any time reading up on the problems caused by questionable patent assertions by NPE's or just flyin' by the seat of your pants? You seem to be ignoring the financial harm caused to medium and small companies when a "patent troll" comes a'knockin. (Scanner patent infringement anyone?)

    The "widget factory owner" will probably be hard pressed to come up with the money to fight a big well-funded NPE. Do you have any idea how much the average legal bill is to defend against a patent infringement lawsuit involving even a million (or less)? Over $600,000 dollars!
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-32973_3-57409792-296/how-much-is-that-patent-lawsuit-going-to-cost-you/

    A big company like Apple can of course afford whatever they have to do and just pass the cost over to iDevice buyers. What about Mr Widget? He's not dealing with the little inventor who got the patent in the first place, someone Mr. Widget might be able to reason with. He's dealing with a company that doesn't care who he is, what he does, who he supports or how many other people depend on him. It's just about maximizing the money they can get from threatening to sue anyone who might, maybe, possibly, somehow be using any of the patent claims by any stretch of imagination. Maybe little iOS app developers for instance?

    So even if the infringement claim is probably bogus in the view of Mr. Widget he'll have to make one of two bad choices: Pay whatever "they" say he owes for "stealing their property" or take a chance, however remote, on being found in violation by a court decree and losing his land, factory and equipment just to pay off the NPE's legal fees for suing him, paying past damages and current licensing fees if he decides to fight it. There's probably only one of those choices that makes sense business-wise. Just pay off "the troll" to go away and hope they don't come back for another bite later. 'Cause Mr. Widget, factory owner, can't afford to fight them even if he's not "stealing their property".
  • Reply 35 of 45
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,109member
    waltfrench wrote: »
    The inventor who came up with intermittent windshield wipers did NOT work for a big car company. He was an NPE who hoped merely to negotiate a fair price for the automakers' use of his work in making a practical wiper.

    It doesn't disprove the rest of your post of course, but it's not accurate to say he only wanted to negotiate a fair price for using the patent. Mr. Kearns fully intended to build his own intermittent wiper assemblies in his own factory and sell them to the car builders. Selling the rights in return for a royalty was absolutely NOT what he wanted to do. According to him it was never about the money.
  • Reply 36 of 45
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Is that what you really think Apple is doing when Tim Cook complains about "patent trolls"? Have you spent any time reading up on the problems caused by questionable patent assertions by NPE's or just flyin' by the seat of your pants? You seem to be ignoring the financial harm caused to medium and small companies when a "patent troll" comes a'knockin. (Scanner patent infringement anyone?)

    There's a difference. If the patent really has no validity and the NPE is being heavy handed in trying to enforce it, then there is a legitimate complaint.

    That's different than all the whiners here arguing that NPEs should NEVER be allowed to have a patent.
  • Reply 37 of 45
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,109member
    jragosta wrote: »
    There's a difference. If the patent really has no validity and the NPE is being heavy handed in trying to enforce it, then there is a legitimate complaint.

    That's different than all the whiners here arguing that NPEs should NEVER be allowed to have a patent.

    Agreed
  • Reply 38 of 45
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Peter Cranstone View Post


    Remember Nokia and BB probably hold more mobile related patents than all the others combined. I would not be surprised to learn that Apple has cross platform patent licenses with either of them.

     

    Simply proves you are not up on old news.
    http://press.nokia.com/2011/06/14/nokia-enters-into-patent-license-agreement-with-apple/
  • Reply 39 of 45
    ecsecs Posts: 307member
    Shame, Apple, shame. I really wish someday software patents will be called invalid. I'm not a leftist at all, but software patents are one of the most unfair things in the tech land. Period.
  • Reply 40 of 45
    jragosta wrote: »
    Go back and read the many times I've explained the folly of your position.

    What if he doesn't want to make widgets, but the factory is still valuable and is set up so that it's really only good for making widgets?

    By selling it to a real estate investment firm, he can get his money but leave it to the experts to rent it out to a widget manufacturer.

    Your proposal would absolutely destroy innovation in this country - at least as far as small inventors is concerned. The idea that you could invent something, patent it, and then anyone in the world who wanted to make the product could do so simply because you hadn't gotten around to licensing or selling the technology is just plain absurd.

    You didn't read what I wrote. I responded to your misunderstanding of another poster's (not mine) suggestion that patents be treated like trademarks. You attempted to give an analogy to show why this was bad but your analogy made zero sense, so I corrected it. Then I explained why, giving multiple reasons, patents should NOT be treated like trademarks. First read, then respond. Sound like a plan?
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