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Nokia Feeds a Patent Troll

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the om-nom-nom dept.

Businesses 93

New submitter glebovitz writes "In case anyone missed the other Nokia news: on the same day they announced the sale of Qt to Digia, they also sold 500 patents to Vringo. Vringo, a video ring tone company, recently merged with patent portfolio company Innovate/Protect which includes Donald Stout, the founder of patent holding company NTP, on its board. Forbes refers to NTP as 'a patent troll which milked Research In Motion for $612.5 million in a patent infringement settlement reached in 2006.' As Eric Savitz writes in the article, 'Vringo decided to basically turn itself into a patent troll.'"

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how long till the lawsuits start flying? (3, Informative)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | about 2 years ago | (#40947305)

I would be shocked if none have been filed by the end of the month.

Re:how long till the lawsuits start flying? (4, Informative)

radiumsoup (741987) | about 2 years ago | (#40947397)

already in process - Vringo has settled part of a suit against AOL, but stands to receive as much as $1B from Google (that's not a misprint, it's widely estimated that damages could go as high as one billion US Dollars.) Trial starts around Oct 18th if memory serves

Re:how long till the lawsuits start flying? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947519)

Why would Nokia sell patents for $32m if they stand to receive $1B in potential damages so soon after?

Nokia, what the fuck are you doing?

Re:how long till the lawsuits start flying? (1)

BenLeeImp (1347831) | about 2 years ago | (#40947589)

32 million in profit now, or maybe 1 billion (gross) later after long, costly litigation that may yield all of zero dollars.

Re:how long till the lawsuits start flying? (5, Informative)

radiumsoup (741987) | about 2 years ago | (#40947615)

different lawsuit - Vringo has sued Google for patents owned from a previous merger not related to the Nokia patents... but it does support the idea of Vringo going after patent infringements for a primary source of revenue.

Re:how long till the lawsuits start flying? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 years ago | (#40951523)

$1B? Is that another prediction by Florian?

Re:how long till the lawsuits start flying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40952199)

For 10 million I would have assassinated the patent troll company. Those usually only have a handful of employees.

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947335)

WTF is a "video ring tone company"?

Re:WTF (5, Funny)

Bookwyrm (3535) | about 2 years ago | (#40947411)

WTF is a "video ring tone company"?

You need to pay the license fee in order to obtain the proprietary information which compromises the patented answer to that question.

Re:WTF (1)

Quanticfx (2443904) | about 2 years ago | (#40947869)

You need to pay the license fee in order to obtain the proprietary information which compromises the patented answer to that question.

Brilliant, simply brilliant.

Re:WTF (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#40947481)

As of now, it's a slang phrase for a Microsoft proxy.

What has MS to do with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947943)

As of now, it's a slang phrase for a Microsoft proxy.

How? If they were a MS proxy they would have sold to MS. Aren't MS phones just as vulnerable to this patent troll?

Re:WTF (4, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#40947689)

WTF is a "video ring tone company"?

Those idiots who advertise on the 'cheap' channels, promising a free ringtone for your phone of some semi-popular quote or song if you text a certain number with your credit card info and set up a $10/mo. subscription with them.

Think of it as a company that administers a public telecom IQ test (hint: if you pass, you're not one of their customers).

faith in humanity lost... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947341)

fuck humans, we have no redeaming qualities... everyone should stop breeding and wait until we all die out

Re:faith in humanity lost... (3, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | about 2 years ago | (#40947623)

You first.

Re:faith in humanity lost... (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 2 years ago | (#40947817)

Way ahead of ya.

Re:faith in humanity lost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947831)

i've been doing my part, had a vasectomy years ago.

So exactly how much 'child pollution' have you personally generated?

Re:faith in humanity lost... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40948281)

i've been doing my part, had a vasectomy years ago.

So exactly how much 'child pollution' have you personally generated?

Since you're a slashdot poster, a vasectomy is just an empty gesture. You have to have sex with women for it to matter.

Re:faith in humanity lost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40948483)

Lol... very true

But I digress.... medcalf, exaclty how much progency pollution have you and signigicant other personally generated

Re:faith in humanity lost... (1)

medcalf (68293) | about 2 years ago | (#40949321)

None, because I don't regard children as pollution. However, I do have four wonderful sons, whom I wouldn't trade for anything.

Re:faith in humanity lost... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40950175)

Thanks for doing your part to slowly kill the Earth....

Re:faith in humanity lost... (1)

JazzLad (935151) | about 2 years ago | (#40951411)

Hey, I have 3 kids, I'm doing my part too!

Re:faith in humanity lost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40949973)

as a teacher, over 150 kids minds a year for the last 20 years. I try to teach them to think for themselves but it's almost a loosing cause

Re:faith in humanity lost... (1, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#40947745)

fuck humans, we have no redeaming qualities... everyone should stop breeding and wait until we all die out

... said just days after the Curiosity rover safely landed on Mars.

Re:faith in humanity lost... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40947883)

Actually, that pretty much sums up what Curiosity did say.

Are you nuclear powered?

Re:faith in humanity lost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947949)

compared to a Siberian Tiger, even the Mars Curiosity rover is nothing...

Hell, compared to a single random germ in a drop of pond water, the Curiosity rover is STILL NOTHING...

Re:faith in humanity lost... (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#40948283)

compared to a Siberian Tiger, even the Mars Curiosity rover is nothing...

Oh? How are you measuring that?

Re:faith in humanity lost... (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#40948399)

"compared to a Siberian Tiger, even the Mars Curiosity rover is nothing"

Sadly enough, no siberian tiger did appear at Mars, so the Curiosity won the "Being Something" conquest by lack of rivals.

Mars Curiosity might be something, after all.

Re:faith in humanity lost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40948865)

you're fucken retarded, and yet, you're also a perfect example of my humanity shouldn't breed.... so thank you for proving my original point

Re:faith in humanity lost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40949773)

How, exactly, does that prove your point?

Re:faith in humanity lost... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#40955755)

"my humanity shouldn't breed"

Absolutly right: your humanity shouldn't breed.

Re:faith in humanity lost... (3, Funny)

marsu_k (701360) | about 2 years ago | (#40949095)

fuck humans ... everyone should stop breeding

You know, there's a contradiction somewhere there. Just can't seem to point my finger at it.

Patent trollism can't be exported (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947377)

Well products can be sold abroad, but badly issued USPTO patents, they can't be exported. So it's time to analyze how much of the US economy the USPTO had destroyed.

Why should I care? (1)

Jezisheck (2558157) | about 2 years ago | (#40947383)

I may be missing something, but I don't know why should people (and I) care? Is there any threat rising for anyone already?

Re:Why should I care? (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#40947725)

Well, I used to use (and love) Qt as a language... I still dabble in it once in awhile.

Not sure how many patents would be attached to Qt, so I guess it'll require me to at least half-assed check before I do anything commercial with code written in it.

Re:Why should I care? (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 2 years ago | (#40947881)

It's best not to check. If you check, even if you think you're in the clear, you can be sued for triple damages for knowing infringement.

Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947385)

In its quest to become another no-name mobile phone OEM it is imperative to shut down all research and development, because the future really isn't important.

Why haven't the shareholders held a vote of no confidence in the current Nokia board?

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#40947741)

Because they're waiting for a massive payday from Microsoft when it comes time to buy up what's left.

(I didn't say they were smart...)

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40947901)

Because they're waiting for a massive payday from Microsoft when it comes time to buy up what's left.

Yeah. Four chairs, a couple of tablets and a bunch of mice.

Some payday.

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#40948637)

Look any way you slice it Nokia is dead and they were dead before Elop ever walked in the door, why? Because their big business is about to go the way of the 8-track, that's why. Nokia made their money on dumbphones and we can all see the writing on the wall, as the chips drop dumbphones will disappear. Hell Walmart has begun offering smartphones on their cheapo prepaid plans at $125, when that gets down to $50 that's it, its over.

Put yourself in the shoes of Elop, you walk through the door and the business is totally fractured, you got no less than THREE different phone OSes, none of which is compatible with the others, Symbian, MeeGo/Maemo, and the Java based one I can't remember the name of. Now the company couldn't buy WebOS because they couldn't throw a billion like HP, Apple sure as fuck ain't selling them iOS, Android is right out because Samsung and HTC do it better than anybody and the market is flooded with Android phones already, and no product you have will be able to compete for at least a year and a half and that is if everything goes perfectly. So he took the money from MSFT and hoped like hell they knew WTF they were doing with WinPhone.

Was it a good call? Nope but frankly i don't see what other call the guy could make, Android would make them an also ran, a third or fourth string player at best compared to Samsung and HTC, and MeeGo/Maemo simply wasn't done and was already behind. When you are in the same market as Apple you can't go half assed which is what MeeGo would have been if he shoved it out the door so the guy literally was out of options. He had no OS, a market that was dying, and was rapidly running out of time. I don't see where the guy had a choice really, its not like he could wave a magic wand and suddenly make MeeGo/Maemo into an iPhone killer, it just wasn't anywhere near done.

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40949855)

Look any way you slice it Nokia is dead and they were dead before Elop ever walked in the door, why?

They were profitable then. They are not profitable now.

Nokia made their money on dumbphones and we can all see the writing on the wall, as the chips drop dumbphones will disappear.

They could have used Android and had a product available almost immediately to the channels the dumbphones sold in rather than waiting almost a year for windows phone to be ready.

Android is right out because Samsung and HTC do it better than anybody and the market is flooded with Android phones already, and no product you have will be able to compete for at least a year and a half and that is if everything goes perfectly. So he took the money from MSFT and hoped like hell they knew WTF they were doing with WinPhone.

Nokia's Windows phone are not in some special bubble. They compete with Android just as much as Android competes with Android. The difference is people buy Android phones and they don't buy Windows Phones. Also MS gave them 1 billion dollars while they had much more than that liquid at the time so the 1 billion wasn't really needed.

Was it a good call? Nope

Your arguments are flawed but at least you had the presence of mind to arrive at the right answer.

Android would make them an also ran, a third or fourth string player at best compared to Samsung and HTC, and MeeGo/Maemo simply wasn't done and was already behind. When you are in the same market as Apple you can't go half assed which is what MeeGo would have been if he shoved it out the door so the guy literally was out of options. He had no OS, a market that was dying, and was rapidly running out of time. I don't see where the guy had a choice really, its not like he could wave a magic wand and suddenly make MeeGo/Maemo into an iPhone killer, it just wasn't anywhere near done.

You are still making the fatal mistake of thinking that Windows Phones exist in a bubble insulated somehow from the Android competition. Unfortunately for Nokia, they made the same mistake.

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (1)

husker_man (473297) | about 2 years ago | (#40950469)

Look any way you slice it Nokia is dead and they were dead before Elop ever walked in the door, why? Because their big business is about to go the way of the 8-track, that's why. Nokia made their money on dumbphones and we can all see the writing on the wall, as the chips drop dumbphones will disappear. Hell Walmart has begun offering smartphones on their cheapo prepaid plans at $125, when that gets down to $50 that's it, its over.

Not necessarily, though for a growing-smaller percentage there will always be a need for a dumb phone option. My mother-in-law just got such a phone to replace her old phone through Verizon (may they rot in some abyss). My wife and I tried to gauge her ability to use anything with a higher degree of tech (such as a tablet) and she absolutely cannot do it (even with a couple weeks of work). We broke down and got her a very basic pre-paid phone plan, with a very basic telephone, and she's thrilled.

Now, for those of us able to use smartphones, we'll never go back - but there will always be a segment of society that needs a minimal phone.

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40950557)

nokia still does very well on the 100 bucks phones segment, their offerings at under 100 bucks are the best on the market too.

what you're actually missing is that 400 bucks smartphones industry is _not_ going to last for another decade. the devices mean price will go to around hundred bucks.

but it's the 400 bucks market that is sexy and covered in trade press.. and ceo's love trade press.

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#40952003)

what you're actually missing is that 400 bucks smartphones industry is _not_ going to last for another decade.

...and neither will Nokia, at least not without coming into some astronomical amount of luck.

It's one thing to look ahead, but another entirely to look so far ahead of you that you cannot see the great big hole you're about to walk into.

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (2)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 years ago | (#40951645)

They were in trouble before Elop walked in the door. Now I think their position is hopeless.

They could have come out with a phone running Meego, or switched to Android. This would not have been a good move, but they could have survived, and they may not have had any good moves. Now they don't have any options but to pray for help from Microsoft...and Microsoft very rarely answers prayers. (I can't think of even one of their partners that could honestly say MS saved them. The closest I can come is Apple, and they were hardly an MS partner.)

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40951883)

My Nokia dumbphone lasts 2 weeks on battery, your smartphone lasts a day.
Some people actually *need* that.

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 years ago | (#40955775)

Look any way you slice it Nokia is dead and they were dead before Elop ever walked in the door

They were the largest seller of mobile phone handsets on the planet at that point so even the "do nothing" option could not have possibly harmed Nokia as badly as Elop.

Re:Nokia selling more of its crown jewels (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40950533)

the patents sale includes that they get ongoing fees from some of the licensing.

it's actually possible that they're doing this as a switcharoo.. since they got cross licensing deals with others already. now these patents are no longer nokia's. sounds pretty ridiculous loopholing but that's big IP business for you..

Distinctions should be made (0)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 2 years ago | (#40947403)

I agree with the prevailing opinion that the patent system needs fixing. However, until that is done, why is buying an asset (patent) and then trying to get a return on the investment considered so evil? Rail against the patent system if you wish, but demonizing the patent holders seems misguided.

Re:Distinctions should be made (4, Insightful)

schitso (2541028) | about 2 years ago | (#40947499)

Something being legal doesn't make it right.

Re:Distinctions should be made (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947543)

That's not what Romni says.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40950943)

Since when has right and wrong had anything to do with business?

Re:Distinctions should be made (4, Insightful)

MoonFog (586818) | about 2 years ago | (#40947533)

Because the entire business method of patent trolls typically include only suing others. They don't generate anything of value and will only fatten the bank accounts for themselves and their lawyer.

These aren't guys who invented something, got a patent on it and sued those trying to copy, they buy patents from others (who may not even have bothered going after the alleged infringers) and use those patents as grounds to sue. They are leeches.

Re:Distinctions should be made (2, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | about 2 years ago | (#40947715)

Because the entire business method of patent trolls typically include only suing others. They don't generate anything of value and will only fatten the bank accounts for themselves and their lawyer.

These aren't guys who invented something, got a patent on it and sued those trying to copy, they buy patents from others (who may not even have bothered going after the alleged infringers) and use those patents as grounds to sue. They are leeches.

And that has been a business model for at least 150 years in the US. The patent system was quite literally designed for that. Patent thickets, licensing companies and the ilk were extremely common during the rise of the industrial age from things like loom technology, to sewing machines, to industrial controllers.

You may feel they're leeches (and, by the way, I agree), but the system was explicitly set up to allow for (and, frankly, encourage) things like that. It gave inventors incentive to do their inventing and get compensated for it, without having to build out a business themselves. Its a win-win for the investment community that wants to consume them and the inventors who are producing them. It absolutely has encouraged huge amounts of innovation in the last 200 years.

The bigger problem is not the fact that its legal to do that, its that there are so many lousy patents, and the litigation costs are high enough that its cheaper to settle most of the time without a jugement on the quality of the patent. If you want to fix the problem, you need to get the US government to hire ten times the number of qualified reviewers, spend the money to make it easier to trace though existing patents and solve the litation problem (mandatory licensing, mandatory arbitration, guaranteed legal fees if the patent holder loses the case, things like that...)

The ability for a particular person to be able to be compensated for their innovation without needing to start a company and begin manufacturing something is an important thing for progress in general. There's certainly a lot of evidence to suggest the spike in technological advance 200 years ago started precisely because of the rise of a patent system that encouraged inventors to do inventing as a full-time job. For that to work, you have to be able to buy and sell patents, and if you do that, you're going to get situations exactly like we have. Fix the process of issuing patents, and you'll get back to the controlled insanity of the 19th century instead of the uncontrolled insanity of the 21st.

Re:Distinctions should be made (2)

kimvette (919543) | about 2 years ago | (#40947861)

The patent system was quite literally designed for that. Patent thickets, licensing companies and the ilk were extremely common during the rise of the industrial age from things like loom technology, to sewing machines, to industrial controllers.

No, it was not set up for that. It was designed for protecting the little guy who is inventing and producing tangible goods from big companies copying him and driving him out of business. The patent thicket you speak of hinders innovation; it does not promote development of useful arts and sciences.

Re:Distinctions should be made (3, Informative)

Halo1 (136547) | about 2 years ago | (#40948029)

It was designed for protecting the little guy who is inventing and producing tangible goods from big companies copying him and driving him out of business.

The patent system was used by the King of England to reward his friends with monopolies. The whole "encourage innovation" and especially the whole "protect the little guy" arguments is mainly a pretty story to sell it to the masses.

I mean, just look at the arguments of patent system fans. Half the time they'll say

Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will keep everything secret and all knowledge will be lost.

The other half of the time they say

Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will immediately duplicate every innovation without the original inventor being able to get any money out of it.

While both statements can't be right at the same time, they sure can be wrong at the same time.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

Artraze (600366) | about 2 years ago | (#40949627)

> The patent system was used by the King of England to reward his friends with monopolies

And so the founders included it in the constitution, because they were total fans of the King of England and his was of doing things.

> I mean, just look at the arguments of patent system fans. Half the time they'll say
> > Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will keep everything secret and all knowledge will be lost.
> The other half of the time they say
> > Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will immediately duplicate every innovation without the original
> > inventor being able to get any money out of it.
> While both statements can't be right at the same time, they sure can be wrong at the same time.

Sure, because everything written in absolutes is always intended as such. Let me clarify those for you then:
Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will try to keep everything secret and all [that] knowledge will be lost.
Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will try to immediately duplicate every innovation without the original inventor being able to get any money out of it.

So by not writing these statement as absolute rules that somehow must govern behavior, but rather as expected strategies people will follow we can see not only how they can both be true, but how they are actually both accurate as they are already partially in play today (see trade secrets and GPL issues). The only difference is that we presently have an additional strategy of 'get a patent' which changes the game.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

Halo1 (136547) | about 2 years ago | (#40950169)

The patent system was used by the King of England to reward his friends with monopolies

And so the founders included it in the constitution, because they were total fans of the King of England and his was of doing things.

Powerful people helping powerful friends is of all times. And e.g. Thomas Jefferson wasn't exactly a big fan of the concept of patents [movingtofreedom.org] initially. That changed somewhat later on [monticello.org] , but even then he never saw it as "little vs big guy" but rather as "help the interest of society".

> I mean, just look at the arguments of patent system fans. Half the time they'll say
> > Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will keep everything secret and all knowledge will be lost.
> The other half of the time they say
> > Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will immediately duplicate every innovation without the original
> > inventor being able to get any money out of it.
> While both statements can't be right at the same time, they sure can be wrong at the same time.

Sure, because everything written in absolutes is always intended as such.

And every statement can be qualified in a way that makes it potentially true. What people try or not is not the issue, it's what the actual situation is. It's simply not true in the digital economy that in general innovators cannot make money off of their innovation because other people immediately duplicate it. Just like they don't work in a vacuum, and should they have to pay a royalty to every single patent owner whose "innovations" they are "stealing" pretty much no one would be able to sell software at a profit except for the behemoths out there. There have been plenty of surveys and economic studies on these topics, a bunch of which I once summarised [ffii.org] .

At the same time, given that pretty much no software developer ever looks at patents (and if they look at them, they're more likely to get a headache than inspiration), their disclosure value is not that great either. Let's not even talk about business method patents, many of which are disclosed by simply putting them into operation (it's hard to keep one click a secret). And then there's the point of network effects, where overall value and efficiency increases exponentially as more people/computers use the same standard to communicate and exchange information. Patents would have to offer really massive benefits to offset all of this overhead.

So by not writing these statement as absolute rules that somehow must govern behavior, but rather as expected strategies people will follow we can see not only how they can both be true, but how they are actually both accurate as they are already partially in play today (see trade secrets and GPL issues). The only difference is that we presently have an additional strategy of 'get a patent' which changes the game.

It adds red tape and leads to a tragedy of the anti-commons (because a patent does not guarantee that you, or anyone else for that matter, can make use of whatever you monopolised; it only allows you to forbid others from making use of that knowledge). Thereby it naturally leads to concentration of power, which in fact is readily acknowledged by and even seen as a positive evolution by certain people in charge of forming IP policy [slashdot.org] .

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40950541)

The patent system was used by the King of England to reward his friends with monopolies. The whole "encourage innovation" and especially the whole "protect the little guy" arguments is mainly a pretty story to sell it to the masses.

Wrong, at least in the US. It was written into the Constituion like that. Remember, we'd just been at war to be free of the king and his laws. Whether or not that power was to be given to government was hotly debated and grudgingly granted.

I mean, just look at the arguments of patent system fans. Half the time they'll say "Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will keep everything secret and all knowledge will be lost." The other half of the time they say "Patents are required, because otherwise everyone will immediately duplicate every innovation without the original inventor being able to get any money out of it." While both statements can't be right at the same time, they sure can be wrong at the same time.

You're mischaracterizing it. Before patents, you could either keep your invention secret and sell stuff your invention produced (loom, cotton gin, etc) and the invention and its workings would die with you, or if you invented a product, big players would copy it and eat your lunch. Patents prevent both from happening.

Why are there still trade secrets, then? First, because patents only last 20 years and second, many things can't be patented. Recipes are an example of that.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

Artraze (600366) | about 2 years ago | (#40949085)

The patent system was quite literally designed for that. Patent thickets, licensing companies and the ilk were extremely common during the rise of the industrial age from things like loom technology, to sewing machines, to industrial controllers.

No, it was not set up for that. It was designed for protecting the little guy who is inventing and producing tangible goods from big companies copying him and driving him out of business. The patent thicket you speak of hinders innovation; it does not promote development of useful arts and sciences.

Okay, so you're a tinkerer and invent, taking from the GP's example, a fancy new loom in your basement and get a patent. It's not really much faster to run, but it doesn't break down nearly as often and thus reduces downtime and required maintenance staff. So to be rewarded for your ingenuity, you uh... start a large factory using your invention and are successful in the marketplace because you can cut production costs by 10% which is totally enough to compete against existing companies because you clearly have the experience to start a business and capitol is free and finding a plant and workers and setting up trade agreements and all kinds of overhead don't matter because you can trim a bit off nominal production costs?

The point is, while the "little guy who is inventing and producing tangible goods" can exist in some cases, many times it doesn't. Often, the inventor is a scientist/engineer/etc (e.g. Tesla) that wants nothing to do with actual production but wants to / should earn income from their invention to fund further efforts. Or, in the case above, the field is such that even important innovations can really only be used by a fairly large producer, and the burden on the inventor to become one exceeds the value offered by the invention. Would you consider a system that forced you to use your invention or bust as helpful to "promote development of useful arts and sciences"?

The GP had it right: The problem isn't patent licensing in general, it's the worthless patents.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40950197)

Just make transferring patents illegal. The inventors are issued the patent and hold it. If a third party wants to develop the technology they sign a license agreement that may or may not be exclusive. If someone infringes, the original inventors need to go after them.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | about 2 years ago | (#40950765)

Posting to delete wrong mod - should be modded interesting. note to self - touchpad needs to be replaced with mouse.

Re:Distinctions should be made (2)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 2 years ago | (#40947753)

So, if you buy an apartment building that someone else built, you shouldn't feel right about charging rent? Or if you buy a run down building, you should be embarrassed to evict the drug dealers and gangs, and try to find legitimate tenants? Your argument is nonsense. Bad patents should be rejected by the patent office. Bad patents that are issued should be dismissed. A means of challenging bad patents that doesn't require a huge bankroll should be available. The public should perhaps be involved in ascertaining when prior art is clearly available, or the unobvious requirement isn't met. And many other reforms that I don't know about should be implemented.

None of this makes an owner of a legitimate patent, however acquired, a troll for seeking to license the rights.

Re:Distinctions should be made (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40948233)

What apartment?? Where do you see an apartment?

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

weakref (2554172) | about 2 years ago | (#40948343)

It's wrong to charge a rent if you don't let tenants in. Same way, it's wrong to buy a patent and use it for charging fees but not for production of goods and services. This part should be fixed IMHO.

Re:Distinctions should be made (2)

Halo1 (136547) | about 2 years ago | (#40948379)

So, if you buy an apartment building that someone else built, you shouldn't feel right about charging rent?

Analogy fail. Apartment buildings are scarce goods by their very nature. Nobody owning them or taking responsibility for them almost by definition leads to a tragedy of the commons. On the other hand, making ideas/innovations/inventions scarce goods is an artificial construct. The problems with patent thickets are known. To some extent they have been worked around in the past by the big corporations by means of cross-licensing, and by smaller players by staying under the radar of larger players. Everyone just had to waste a certain amount of their income on patent war chests and mutual assured destruction kept everyone happy (except for the money they had to waste on useless patents, of course, or when small player became a bit too big without possessing a sufficient number of patents to play the game).

With the patent trolls even that strategy doesn't work anymore and everyone just gets sucker punched. One can hope everyone will finally wake up to see that the patent system just doesn't work for today's digital economy, but of course the people making lots of money of it and basically siphoning off lots of money from the real economy will keep vehemently disagreeing with that.

Bad patents should be rejected by the patent office. Bad patents that are issued should be dismissed.

And everybody should paint rainbows and give out happy smiles and the world will be a better place. What you are saying has been said for the last 30 or 40 years already, and many reforms have been implemented. In the mean time, the cost of patent lawsuits keeps going up, the number of granted patents keeps rising and the allowed subject matter keeps expanding.

But let's just keep wasting money and opportunities by the boat load, including public money spent on all that patent reviewing and on those lawsuits. Or alternatively, let's make all patent offices self-sufficient like the European Patent Office, which leads to them granting ever more patents because it increases their income and their hence power (or simply because they don't know better, due to the hammers & nails situation).

Yes, let's all just wait for patent utopia to finally arise and make everybody happy. Amen.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40947785)

most products produced in the last 100 some years need dozens to thousands of smaller inventions. someone making a cool new wireless algorithm may never build a business around it, but licensing it to existing companies is a way to get compensated.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 2 years ago | (#40948037)

Or.....one could say they help foster smaller teams of developing patents (I wouldn't, but some might). The little guy who can't afford to defend his patent could sell it to a patent troll and make some money from their patent. The patent troll then turns around and uses their legal knowledge to reap the reward of that investment.

I don't really believe this, but I can see it as an argument. I think that these companies are the reason that there are so many nit-picky little patents all over the place. I think that technology patents need shorter life-spans (5 years in software is 20 years in manufacturing). But being able to see both sides of an argument helps bolster your own thoughts.

Re:Distinctions should be made (1)

fritsd (924429) | about 2 years ago | (#40949205)

I agree with the prevailing mediæval opinion that the Champerty and Maintenance [wikipedia.org] legal system needs fixing.
However, until that is done, why is buying a share of someone elses lawsuit and then trying to collect a share of the loot considered so evil? Rail against the Champerty system if you wish, but demonizing the buying and selling of lawsuit shares seems misguided.

A simple rule (4, Interesting)

dmomo (256005) | about 2 years ago | (#40947505)

What would be the effect of restricting a patent holder from initiating litigation to infringements made prior to the acquisition of the patent? This would leave many issues inherent in patents unsolved. But, because it's so simple, would be an easy barrier to put in place, and hopefully lower the benefit/cost of patent trolling.

This would have required Nokia to initiate litigation vs. Research in Motion prior to selling the the patent to Vringo. This would certainly affect their image. If they were not concerned about this, they might have pursued a case v. RIM themselves, or at least outsourced it.

Vringo could immediately demand that Research in Motion cease any ongoing infringement. But R.I.M could then simply cease infringement, and Vringo would get no return on their patent acquisition. Vringo could also demand liscensing fees for ongoing RIM use of the patented tech... R.I.M could decline, or contest the patent, making the prospect of buying patents for the purpose of Trolling less alluring.

A naive rule (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40952707)

What would be the effect of restricting a patent holder from initiating litigation to infringements made prior to the acquisition of the patent?

"Oh, hai, small inventor and patent holder. I'm a Big Corporation. I'm just going to use your idea, and if you ask me for license fees, I'll tell you to fark yourself. What are you going to do... sue me? Bwaahahaha! I'll bury you in documents and motions until you're bankrupt and beg me to let you drop the suit... I mean, where are you going to get the quarter-million dollars it'll take to litigate this?
"Back in the day, of course, you could have sold your patent to a holding company who has millions in the bank to pay for this litigation. Then, I'd be really scared, because they're more than willing to fight me all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, and I could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. You'd get a percentage of that payout with no risk on your part. That might make me actually want to buy your patent or get a license from you.
"But not anymore! Thanks to the Dmomo Screwing Small Inventors Act of 2012, I can just keep infringing your patent. If you sell it to someone who might sue me, damages reset! So, all I have to do is imply that I'll stop infringing within a few months and their potential damages would be less than that quarter million to sue me, so it's an uncomfortable risk for them, and they'll never buy your patent!
"It's a brilliant Catch-22! Thanks to Sen. Dmomo, you can't sue me, and you can't ever find a buyer who would sue me!"

Re:A naive rule (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#40955723)

Ah, but here am I, the new patent insurance provider. You pay me a certain fraction of the revenue for your patents (plus a constant base rate, of course), and I pay for any lawsuits you might need to defend them (please don't read the small print of our contracts, though).

This was done at Microsoft's behest (5, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#40947507)

We all know that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is a sockpuppet of Steve Ballmer (why the Nokia shareholders put up with this is beyond me, but it probably reflects the lack of actual control over corporate governance by the nominal owners). Now Elop is taking yet more actions that don't really help Nokia, but are calculated to hurt Google (and probably Apple as well) as much as possible. The reason is obvious: Microsoft wants these Nokia patents in the hands of patent trolls to cause trouble.

F&^CK You USA, I really hate you for this. (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947605)

We all know this is because of this F&^cked up patent system in the USA. So when are you guys trying to make some changes?

Re:F&^CK You USA, I really hate you for this. (0)

ktappe (747125) | about 2 years ago | (#40948009)

We all know this is because of this F&^cked up patent system in the USA. So when are you guys trying to make some changes?

And I'm quite sure there are no stupid laws on the books in your country that, because there's no public knowledge of or interest in them, will not get changed.

Re:F&^CK You USA, I really hate you for this. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40949307)

Typical. We know it is f&^cked up, but lets talk about some f&^cked up laws in other countries.

Re:F&^CK You USA, I really hate you for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40948679)

Why don't you get on it?
Tell us exactly what we need to do and we'll get it done.

Re:F&^CK You USA, I really hate you for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40949369)

Guess it's to late. You're already under total mind control the only solution is total destruction of "the American way of life"

Re:This was done at Microsoft's behest (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40947683)

so WTF is Elop getting out of this from ballmer to be his minion?

why would he run the company this way unless MS is feeding him some secret slush fund $$$

Re:This was done at Microsoft's behest (0)

q.kontinuum (676242) | about 2 years ago | (#40947925)

Interesting, how accusations are always made without any proof just by claiming that everybody knows anyway :-) Seriously: I do not know and not even seriously suspect. Nokia went downhill already before Elop became CEO. Regarding this deal: Not only do they get a never-expiring license for all their products, but apparently also 35% of all license fees exceeding the purchase price, and without the need to start risky litigations as well. Oracle, Google, Samsung and Apple are currently all suffering because they have to disclose information publicly which was meant to be kept private... I don't like the patent system the way it is, but I think this deal is an efficient way of using it...

Re:This was done at Microsoft's behest (2)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 2 years ago | (#40951457)

http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/07/the-sun-tzu-of-nokisoftian-microkia-mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-whose-the-baddest-of-them-all-waterloo.html

Nokia was in a position to dominate the market, but threw away their assets to become an OEM for the third-rate Windows Phone system when Elop became CEO.

Isn't MS just as vulnerable to lawsuits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40947987)

We all know that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is a sockpuppet of Steve Ballmer (why the Nokia shareholders put up with this is beyond me, but it probably reflects the lack of actual control over corporate governance by the nominal owners). Now Elop is taking yet more actions that don't really help Nokia, but are calculated to hurt Google (and probably Apple as well) as much as possible. The reason is obvious: Microsoft wants these Nokia patents in the hands of patent trolls to cause trouble.

Your theory makes no sense. Are not MS' phones and tablets just as vulnerable to the patent troll as Google's and Apple's?

Re:Isn't MS just as vulnerable to lawsuits? (1)

domatic (1128127) | about 2 years ago | (#40950029)

The terms of sale aren't public. I wouldn't be surprised if leaving Nokia and MS alone aren't part of them.

Re:This was done at Microsoft's behest (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | about 2 years ago | (#40948979)

The reason is obvious: Microsoft wants these Nokia patents in the hands of patent trolls to cause trouble.

Steve BLAMMER: All of the evil deviousness of Bill gates, but without the brains. ;-)

Can't decide what future career plans should be (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#40948449)

Sell drugs or become patent troll? I can't decide... Sell $1 apps for smartphone? Sell $1 books on amazon?

Re:Can't decide what future career plans should be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40948819)

Patent trolling won't get you jail time. AND smartphone apps and books are legit.

what is a patent troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40948873)

i haven't heard of the phrase patent troll before. Are patent trolls like Internet trolls on forums who cause a ruckus and attempt to incite a flame war of some sort? Or do they ask for tolls at bridges? Just asking.

NTP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40949005)

NTP = Non Team Player

I wonder... (1)

Nexion (1064) | about 2 years ago | (#40949363)

If patents could not be transfered or sold would it mitigate the trolls or would they simply change tactics and invest in "protecting" inventors with legal services for a stake in the outcome of legal procedings. I also wonder if that would be a bad thing if properly regulated to limit their take in gains (less actual costs) to, say 5%. In the end the actual inventor would be compensated instead of being swindled out of a patent for pennies on the dollar because (s)he cannot afford to protect (her)himself.

Nokia is ripped off like nobody before got ripped (4, Interesting)

fxbar (2627205) | about 2 years ago | (#40949475)

Was there any bidding process? I assume not. Just some very shady deal in the interest of Microsoft only (FEDs should check if there are contracts saying Vringo cannot sue Microsoft, that would kind of prove that Elop still only works for Microsoft).

  I think the Nokia shareholders are getting ripped off by CEO Elop and the board, I hope someone sues them soon, before it is too late. Nokia is ripped off like nobody before got ripped off. The following text shows how major decisions by Elop (ex Microsoft) are only in the interest of Microsoft and not at all in the interest of Nokia.

http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/07/the-sun-tzu-of-nokisoftian-microkia-mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-whose-the-baddest-of-them-all-waterloo.html [blogs.com]

And all those saying Nokia was already dead when Elop came, you are shills or blind, read it too. E.g. start reading the first âoeREASONsâ in the link. They were still twice their competitors when Elop came, alone in China they could have as many customers as Apple has worldwide by a exclusive deal (bound to MeeGo). Distance to Apple was growing at that time. All systematically destroyed in the following months. I don't say they were super fine, but they were still a monster, the elephant in the room. No outside force could move it nearly as fast as Elop has. Now they are an empty shell.

If you have time, read this. It's very long but good (19 reasons why Elop should be fired, you can skip the intro to REASON 1 if you are lazy).

No way the CEO AND the board do not see the logic behind most of these 19 reasons. This is a scam, there must be a huge reward for most of them on some secret channel. Money? Girls? Power?

Anonymous please give us their Email and transform Elops and Balmer's phones into bugs that we can hear what they are talking in private. Jail them all.

Re:Nokia is ripped off like nobody before got ripp (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#40955729)

Well, I guess the patent deal includes backlicensing the patents to Nokia, so they can't be sued for violating the patents they previously used. So now Vringo can sue the competition without Nokia being formally involved. Or in short, I think Vringa now is Nokias SCO.

not your fathers Nokia (1)

Locutus (9039) | about 2 years ago | (#40950821)

they sure do not look or act like they used to. More and more they seem to be acting so very much like a large corporation we all have known to dislike for their business practices.

LoB

No more Nokia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40950847)

And with this "news" I will never buy a Nokia product again.
Good by to the newist microsoft sock puppet!
And I wanted a new N910 awhile back.
Oh well time to find a new smartphone manufacture with balls.

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