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Government Lawyer Says Patent Trolls Are a 'Concern'

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the congress-sued-for-violating-patent-on-reports dept.

Patents 91

New submitter gale the simple writes "While it is fairly common for the jaded and cynical to ride on the lawyers these days (often including Henry VI's famous line about them), every now and then we can see that they are not always the plague and scourge of the earth. EFF again shows that even lawyers can do good in this world. (PDF) All jokes aside, something seems to have moved. Maybe all that bloodletting between the major corporations (Apple vs Samsung) made the leaders recognize that MAD world of patents might not be very stable." From the EFF: "The Congressional Research Service (CRS), the research division of Congress known for its objective studies, recently released a report on the effects of patent trolls on innovation and the economy. ... According to the CRS report, 'The vast majority of defendants settle because patent litigation is risky, disruptive, and expensive, regardless of the merits; and many [patent trolls] set royalty demands strategically well below litigation costs to make the business decision to settle an obvious one.' Businesses lose both time and money, and innovation suffers."

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not quite MAD (5, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#41233901)

MAD only works because everyone dies, no one profits. The patent situation is almost an inverse MAD... the worse things get the more profit there is to be made and the more risk there is to not playing the game. Any public company basically has to behave this way, otherwise their shareholders will string them up or one of their competitors will become more profitable because they ARE playing.

Re:not quite MAD (5, Insightful)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234003)

I think you are 100% correct. I still remember from some years ago where RIM went to court rather than settle with some infamous patent troll and they got hit with a staggering judgement in a jury trial. I think it was at least 5 times what the troll wanted to settle out of court. Being an American and having served on juries, I can tell you that most people on juries are pretty dumb and incapable of understanding the issues they are presented with. You really don't want to risk that some crazy jury will award 10x or more in damages what it will cost you to settle. RIM thought they could win too and that the patent would be invalid but they lost. To me, that was when things began to go wrong for them. They shrugged it off, but I see their downward slide beginning at that very moment. Nobody wants to go to court and roll the dice with the chance that a company killing judgement might be the outcome.

Re:not quite MAD (4, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234365)

I can tell you that most people on juries are pretty dumb and incapable of understanding the issues they are presented with.

Part of the issue is it's supposed to be a 'jury of your peers.' So if the trial concerns a complicated technology issue, then the jury should be highly skilled technologists - Those are the plaintiff and defendant's 'peers,' not some guy who sells ABS pipe at Home Depot.

Re:not quite MAD (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234627)

That's fine as long as you also support only gang members trying gang members and only sexual predators trying their own kind. In all seriousness, while I do think that maybe there needs to be a competency test given to serve on a jury to ensure one is able to understand the subject matter in play you're vastly simplifying the problem and bastardizing the meaning of peer within this context. The idea of a peer is a peer within a specific system. Given that the American (apologies to our overseas board members but this is the one I know about) justice system is structured to support and judge American society, your peers within that system are other American citizens. The whole idea was that there not be different levels of courts for different people. That was tried in the past and didn't work out so well for the little guy.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234849)

I don't think it is fair to say that being a fellow criminal makes you a "peer". Clearly illegal attributes of your life would certainly not be placed into consideration for something like that.

I do understand that it makes sense to consider any citizen to be your peer, but at the same time, it does not do justice here. The discrepancy between people who know technology and those who don't is huge. It's like putting mentally challenged people on a jury. The jury in this case may not have been deficient in an overall sense like a retarded person would be, but they have a comparatively profound inability to come to a reasonable conclusion when presented with technical evidence.

And I would say that even a retarded person *might* understand what the death penalty or jail means for a defendant, but I don't think your average person on a jury understands what is at stake in a trial like this one. Essentially it comes down to which lawyer can convince the jury that the other side is "stealing", except that, the jury is handed a fuzzy photo of the "stolen" goods and they must then squint and try and see if they are even close to the same thing that the defendant has in their possession.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#41237041)

The discrepancy between people who know technology and those who don't is huge. It's like putting mentally challenged people on a jury.

What's your IQ? If you're like most slashdotters (well, like most slashdotters seem to have used to be), most people will seem learning-disabled to you. And remember, learning-disabled people aren't disqualified from jury duty (although I would assume one or both lawyers would bounce them). AND, half of that jury will have a two digit IQ.

Nobody is an expert on everything, most of us are experts at one thing at best. It's the lawyers' jobs to find expert witnesses that can explain the details in a way that someone with an IQ of 85 can understand.

I don't think your average person on a jury understands what is at stake in a trial like this one.

It's up to the legal teams and witnesses to explain it to them.

Re:not quite MAD (4, Insightful)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234777)

I can tell you that most people on juries are pretty dumb and incapable of understanding the issues they are presented with.

Part of the issue is it's supposed to be a 'jury of your peers.' So if the trial concerns a complicated technology issue, then the jury should be highly skilled technologists - Those are the plaintiff and defendant's 'peers,' not some guy who sells ABS pipe at Home Depot.

I used to hold this belief, until someone pointed out (here [slashdot.org] ) that having "professional juries" is potentially a dangerous thing. Working in industry [x], you know that [y] happens even if it's TECHNICALLY not supposed to. You've done it yourself because you understood the risks and in your case it wasn't a huge deal. Now [y] blows up in someone's face causing [z] and the professional jury comes to the point of "well, we all do it so we'll let him off, despite the fact that it caused [z] with the results of [a], [b]. and [c]".

I agree that there are problems, particularly in highly technical cases, that are not easy to articulate. If the lawyers involved can't bring it down to a level that the common man can understand it, they don't understand the problem properly either.

That happened because 11 out of 12 were not peers. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41235675)

That happened because 11 out of 12 were not peers. Therefore they believed the one patent owner as being correct.

In Europe, patent cases are seen by specialists, not juries.

Re:That happened because 11 out of 12 were not pee (1)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | more than 2 years ago | (#41237325)

Someone seems to stick to twelve angry men movie... I am not sure that there is any patent trial that has 12 jurors in the past few years.

Re:That happened because 11 out of 12 were not pee (2)

rmstar (114746) | more than 2 years ago | (#41238115)

In Europe, patent cases are seen by specialists, not juries.

While the results are indeed generally better, the system is not perfect because those specialist have their own agenda. That's why the "programs as such" loophole works.

Re:not quite MAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41236485)

I used to hold this belief, until someone pointed out (here [slashdot.org] ) that having "professional juries" is potentially a dangerous thing. Working in industry [x], you know that [y] happens even if it's TECHNICALLY not supposed to. You've done it yourself because you understood the risks and in your case it wasn't a huge deal. Now [y] blows up in someone's face causing [z] and the professional jury comes to the point of "well, we all do it so we'll let him off, despite the fact that it caused [z] with the results of [a], [b]. and [c]".

That is the most generic explanation of a hypothetical problem that I have ever heard. I can see why you were swayed by that argument. (not)

Re:not quite MAD (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#41237321)

Maybe what we need is a hybrid jury -- empanel the usualy "jury of your peers" the way they do now, but also have a parallel panel of experts in the field of law (ie, lawyers, judges, law professors or lay experts with some demonstrated knowledge, but not people practicing in the field itself -- no engineers or whatever the subject matter is) in question and require some supermajority or absolute majority for a verdict -- ie, the "common man" has to agree with the experts, but the experts also have to agree with the common man to reach a verdict.

There's probably a lot that would make this complicated, but in many cases it seems that the traditional "jury of your peers" made sense in 1800 when an educated man was someone whose knowledge equaled the information in a single Sunday issue of the New York Times.

In very complex cases (think elaborate accounting trials, patent litigation, medical cases) the general tactic of picking people with zero knowledge of any aspect of the case turns the trial from a presentation of the facts and arguments into a sales pitch designed to sway a jury who doesn't know any better.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#41237445)

However, there is a good reason why you can't get a degree by sitting in on a two week seminar, particularly not one where there are two presenters who disagree and have a fair sum of money on the line.

The difficulty is that if the peer group is TOO close, no defendant would ever be found guilty/liable again. Alas, I have no answer to that.

Re:not quite MAD - voir dire is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41238469)

The lawyers are able to weed out anyone with brains. They should get the first dozen that do not have a personal stake in the outcome of the case, and who do not know the players personally. NOT the results of some 100+ page questionaire or P.I. background check.
The other problem is that judges/courts have trampled on the USPTO so many times that they have given up doing serious investigations.
A patent is hardly worth the effort, when a court case can/will over turn it.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 2 years ago | (#41266811)

I used to hold this belief, until someone pointed out (here [slashdot.org] ) that having "professional juries" is potentially a dangerous thing [...] "well, we all do it so we'll let him off, despite the fact that it caused [z] with the results of [a], [b]. and [c]".

Potentially a dangerous thing, but it doesn't have to be. As long as it is still the plaintiff and defendant selecting the jurors, and not a set of 12 jurors select off a sheet that the court uses to determine who counts as an "expert" in this particular case, I think that would work fine.

Basically, rather than have the current system of randomly selecting a couple hundred people, and the plaintiff and defendant simply yay-ing or nay-ing from that pool, allow them each to recommend, say, 12 people. Then they each get to yay or nay from that pool of 24 people. If you end up with less than 12 afterwards, then you go with the current method to pad the jury back out to 12 (or drop the few who made it entirely and use the current method to select all 12). While not perfect, I can't really see how such a system would be worse than what we have now. I mean, worst case, both sides dismiss all 24 jurors and we're simply right back to the current method, right?

Re:not quite MAD (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235415)

I can tell you that most people on juries are pretty dumb and incapable of understanding the issues they are presented with.

Part of the issue is it's supposed to be a 'jury of your peers.' So if the trial concerns a complicated technology issue, then the jury should be highly skilled technologists - Those are the plaintiff and defendant's 'peers,' not some guy who sells ABS pipe at Home Depot.

phb's sould be deciding these cases? god no no no..

Re:not quite MAD (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41236419)

Part of the issue is it's supposed to be a 'jury of your peers.'

TV shows, movies, and novels throw that phrase around, but it isn't part of the law. The reality is that juries are drawn from the people who reside in the area the trial is being held in, and that is all the law requires. Seriously. Federal law requires jurors be selected from a “fair cross-section of the community in the district or division wherein the court convenes.” Look it up. The law and the courts do not work how you think they do...

Oh, it's far more than that (2)

kallisti (20737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41236657)

Based on my experience as a juror, they specifically do not want people who know about the issues involved. The idea is that a juror will use basic judgement entirely on the facts presented by the lawyers during the proceedings. I was on a simple burglary case, we had jurors dismissed just because they had law enforcement relatives. Even knowing the place where the burglary took place was considered prejudicial, after selection we were told to not even go to the shopping mall where it had taken place and had to judge some distances (crucial to the testimony) based on some photographs of the scene.

The need for only basing on the evidence presented was mind-numbingly tedious. We had one man testify, the state's expert in glass shard forensics. This man was presented as an officer, but the lawyer spend (no lie) three hours asking him about his background, what cases he has worked on, just lots and lots of tedious questions to establish that, yes, he in fact does know what he's talking about. This was also the case with the arresting officer, we weren't allowed to assume anything about anyone. Real courtrooms are dreadfully tedious.

That the jury foreman for Apple/Samsung had his own patents should have disqualified him straight up, that lawyer messed up. Civil cases are different that criminal, of course, so maybe the restriction is more lax.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 2 years ago | (#41237461)

. . . the jury should be highly skilled technologists - Those are the plaintiff and defendant's 'peers,' . . .

No, they aren't, at least not for the meaning in 'jury of your peers': If you are a commoner; your peers are commoners; if you are a nobleman, then your peers are noblemen.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235121)

One of the best indicators of a bad regulatory environment is uncertainty of outcomes. When companies are uncertain about outcomes of things like patent litigation or corporate tax rules or future tax incentives, they cannot make intelligent business decisions. Bad decisions across an entire industry becomes a huge drain on business efficiency.

Suggestion: Let Judges judge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41247547)

Simple solutions are best. Let Judges judge, and not just do the sentencing.

Coincidentally, I was talking yesterday with one boss from one of the world's leading forensic institutes. His point was simple: Jurors many times misunderstand what is presented to them, or the implications, in terms of forensics. Jurors are also swayed by the theatrics of the lawyers and prosecutors.

Judges see these tricks all day, so they are not fooled as easily. They know what forensics can and cannot deliver, etc. In short: Being judged by a Judge, who understands the system and the law, is not foolproof. But gives you a better shot at having justice done.

Re:not quite MAD (4, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234185)

I think the other key to MAD is that the barriers of entry are very high, so only those with a lot to lose get to play the game.

If you're already the ruler of Elbonia and you have gold-plated toilets, then do you really want to start shooting nukes at the USA?

The problem with patents is that anybody can get one of those trivial ones without building anything. If I have $10k to my name and can afford a $35 filing fee at the courthouse, and I get a patent for phones with microphones in them, why wouldn't I take a shot at the lottery?

The other key to mad is the "assured destruction" bit - as in fire it and you're GUARANTEED to be toast. Google and Apple are still in business, the last time I checked. They have a lot to lose, but don't think that the threat of actually losing it all is credible.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

nnnnnnn (1611817) | more than 2 years ago | (#41236773)

Good luck with your " phones with microphones in them" patent. The examiner at the patent office who will (not) grant your patent most likely holds an engineering degree. So your patent will never be granted. Even if your patent makes it out of the patent office, the minute you try to go after Apple with it, their legal department will just submit a ton of prior art to the patent office and ask for an reexamination and your patent will be cancelled by the patent office because it was obvious based on the prior art. And you will not be allowed to present your patent in court.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#41236971)

Actually the patent office has issues with insuffient examiners who know the domain, so a lot of very iffy patents get through.

Plus, a smart troll doesn't go after Apple or another big company, they go after little ones that will settle first. Not only does that build up a warchest for going after bigger players, but the settlements have a legal impact on the validity of the patent, so the fact other companies have agreed that the patent was infringed makes other companies claiming otherwise have a greater barrier to doing so. So yeah, it actually is possible for someone with small resources (but a lot of time and domain knowledge) to bilk the system with little personal risk.

Re:not quite MAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41237473)

Good luck with your " phones with microphones in them" patent. The examiner at the patent office who will (not) grant your patent most likely holds an engineering degree. So your patent will never be granted. Even if your patent makes it out of the patent office, the minute you try to go after Apple with it, their legal department will just submit a ton of prior art to the patent office and ask for an reexamination and your patent will be cancelled by the patent office because it was obvious based on the prior art. And you will not be allowed to present your patent in court.

In theory.

In practice.. See current fuckup.

Re:not quite MAD (4, Informative)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234839)

It's a Prisoner's Dilemma game: Everyone would be better off if nobody engaged in the bad behaviors (patent trolling, patenting trivial "innovations"), but unfortunately it's to everyone's unilateral advantage to engage in those behaviors.

Re:not quite MAD (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41237835)

No, its a Prisoner's Dilemma game with disproportionate consequences as well as disproportionate rewards. Its only natural for people to engage in bad behaviors because the rewards are overwhelmingly in the favor of the patent troll.

Applause please.. (5, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#41233907)

Sure, this report may say that current patent law stifles innovation, but that is a long, long way from rewriting the law. In my cynical view thes report will get shelved, and if any legislation does occur, the large corporations and lobbies with an interest in maintaining the status quo will line enough pockets to make sure it fails or gets watered down and altered enough to suit their needs. Remember entrenched power, money, and "it will hurt the economy to change", trump common sense and innovation.

Re:Applause please.. (1)

kiriath (2670145) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234117)

I concur, there will be no true reform in this area the way things are operated now-a-days. The big dogs want to be able to sue each other to recoup losses of sales to other companies. The little trollies are just trying to get rich quick. The whole thing makes for an unpleasant industry.

Re:Applause please.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234555)

True, but, this gives anyone going to court a stick with which to say that the US Congress has determined that the patent law, as currently implement, does not "promote the state of the art"

Re:Applause please.. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234573)

But the large corporations have an interest in eliminating the "classic" patent trolls, the ones who do nothing besides collect stupid patents and then blackmail with them. The special interest groups are not going to abolish software patents or make it easy for startups, sure, but getting rid of the pure parasites would be an improvement.

The fact that change doesn't happen immediately exactly the way you want it doesn't mean that the situation is hopeless forever.

Re:Applause please.. (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235611)

But with recent events, it looks to me as if Apple may have crossed a line and become a company that trolls as well as produces. I'd feel far more lenient toward what they've done if the period were shorter, say 5 years instead of 17.

Re:Applause please.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41235631)

"Hm, yes, it MIGHT be a concern. Rarely. And only in that new-fangled 'technology' industry fad you kids today keep whining about. Tell you what: Let's give it a short amount of time — say, 90 years or so — and we'll just wait and see if the patent trolls get bored with it and move on. If not, I'm sure my grandchildren (which you'll all vote for, of course) will take up the job and make sure that the problem corrects itself after another quick 90 years. That's the free market, my friend."

Patent trolls.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41233923)

Last night my wife was commenting that the guy who wrote 'Modernist Cuisine' had a new book coming out aimed at non-professional chefs..

I said "Isn't that the one by Nathan Myhrvold?" "Yeah, how'd you know?" "You know who he is, right?" "Well, he's a french chef who likes liquid nitrogen." "He owns Intellectual Ventures."

"Oh my god, he's a fucking patent troll!" "King of the patent trolls, dear." "Can I just pretend he isn't and buy the book?"

Re:Patent trolls.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234239)

And then you woke up and realized you had no wife. No, your masturbation hand does not count.

Re:Patent trolls.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41235205)

Actually "Modernist Cuisine" seems like an appropriate book for him to try to sell. A veneer of scientific authority and credibility, with all hype underneath.

I'm not saying the book is entirely fraudulent, but at several hundred dollars, that it's not worth the price, and you're better off buying texts by Adria, Achatz, or any of the other excellent chefs working in this area that deserve more credit. If you're really serious, you could go buy a food science text by food scientists who have been working in this area for decades without the recognition they deserve, whose work all these celebrity chefs are based on, and who ultimately deserve almost all the credit for modernist cuisine.

To be honest, I'm skeptical of most assertions of scientific authority in cooking, at least when they're coming from individuals seeking notoriety. If you spend a significant amount of time on one type of cooking, you might realize there are a lot of myths out there. Lately, there have been new myths asserted based on shoddy or misleading science.

Myhrvold's book is entirely in line with his activities as a patent troll: him trying to capitalize on a popular trend after it started long ago, by taking credit for work that was done elsewhere.

Meaningless (2)

hilltaker7 (2718495) | more than 2 years ago | (#41233931)

Great, identifying the problem is the first step. However, what are the odds of our benevolent government doing anything about it? Unfortunately, without the second step this news is meaningless.

Re:Meaningless (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234133)

Great, identifying the problem is the first step. However, what are the odds of our benevolent government doing anything about it? Unfortunately, without the second step this news is meaningless.

The more the information is disseminated, the harder it is for Congress to deliberately make bad policy decisions. CRS is one of the last of the non-partisan fact-based research services. Newt Gingrich, the mastermind that he is, systematically got rid of them because he knew what their absence would allow him to do.

So if you want to "out benevolent government" to do anything about it, YOU need to spread the word as much as possible.

Re:Meaningless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41235059)

Just make a generalization and blame the republicans like always on this site. Congress? SD's hero BO seems to bypass them quite a bit so why bother?

Victimology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41235711)

Just make a generalization and blame the republicans like always on this site.

Oh, another conservative whining about bias. You are such a victim. I should now change my political opinions, because otherwise I am not a good person. And I thought liberals were the guilt-trip-guys.

A mature person takes ownership of their crap, instead of whining like a child about how much of a victim they are. I wonder if the GOP will ever grow up?

Re:Meaningless (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235163)

The more the information is disseminated, the harder it is for Congress to deliberately make bad policy decisions.

However, Congress loves a challenge like this and will very likely rise to the occasion.

Government == Big Tech (3, Interesting)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 2 years ago | (#41233943)

Humm, so the government (and therefore it's industrial masters) have now decided that patent trolls must go. I somehow doubt if this will benefit us one bit.

Most likely planned end scenario (still years of lobbying away) is that large tech firms will be allowed to 'take over' patents of anyone who lacks the resource to fight them.

  A few of the bigger patent farmers might well survive this, but the wannabees will go under. Unfortunately, so will any real engineer with a genuinely good idea they have patented.

Patent violation (5, Funny)

puddingebola (2036796) | more than 2 years ago | (#41233947)

This story has been filed in violation of my patent on Patent Troll stories posted to Web Sites, patent no. 7640598 D607176 PP20622 RE41067 H002234. I am requesting $5.40 to cover my Veggie Sub at subway for lunch.

Re:Patent violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234413)

Hah... I know you are fake.... a real Patent Troll would ask $5.40 per page hit, and offer a $5,400,000,000 settlement

Re:Patent violation (1)

Mansing (42708) | more than 2 years ago | (#41236441)

You can't be a real patent troll .... real patent trolls are carnivores.

In Other News... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41233977)

This summary mentions many things I don't like about the world today -- lawyers, governments, government lawyers, patents, patent trolls, Samsung vs. Apple, Apple vs. Samsung, the Congress...

It's a party tray of yuckiness.

Famous Quote (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41233987)

For those of you unfamiliar with Shakesphere:

In Act IV, Scene 2 of Henry VI Part 2, Dick says "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

Re:Famous Quote (0)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234509)

For those of you unfamiliar with Shakesphere:

And for ACs unfamiliar with the spelling of the Bard's name, it should have "ea" where you put "he".
Try spelling it as "Shakespeare", next time.

Re:Famous Quote (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234655)

My attempt to patent the Shakesphere was stymied by the damned snow globe racket.

Re:Famous Quote (2)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234971)

For those of you unfamiliar with Shakesphere:

And for ACs unfamiliar with the spelling of the Bard's name, it should have "ea" where you put "he".
Try spelling it as "Shakespeare", next time.

"Shakesphere", might have been his nickname after moving to "the globe".

Re:Famous Quote (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235189)

For those of you unfamiliar with Shakesphere:

In Act IV, Scene 2 of Henry VI Part 2, Dick says "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

You keep using that quote [spectacle.org] . I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Famous Quote (1)

Drathos (1092) | more than 2 years ago | (#41238039)

Killing lawyers is inconceivable?

Re:Famous Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241403)

You keep using that quote [spectacle.org] . I do not think it means what you think it means.

umm.. did you read all that?

Ya Think??? (2)

realsilly (186931) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234023)

Wow, it only took Government lawyers how many years to figure this out? People have been screaming this to the heavens and all over the internet, and they are only now seeing Patent Trolls as a 'concern'. Notice, not a problem, just a 'concern'. AUGH! /facepalm

Re:Ya Think??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234055)

Now that a government official has said that patent trolls are bad, expect the Slashdot commentariat to pull a full 180 and start praising patent trolls at every opportunity.

Or am I the only one who noticed when the folks here did a U-turn against net neutrality after Bush left office?

Henry VI's famous line about them (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234065)

I thought the point of Henry VI's famous line about them was that to take over and trample on people's rights, first you have to get rid of the lawyers.

Re:Henry VI's famous line about them (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234189)

Why not just get rid of all the people? Two birds, one stone (a very big one)?

Re:Henry VI's famous line about them (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234469)

Because the robots aren't good enough slaves and serfs yet.

And some may prefer human worshippers and slaves. Traditions and all that.

Re:Henry VI's famous line about them (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234199)

I thought the point of Henry VI's famous line about them was that to take over and trample on people's rights, first you have to get rid of the lawyers.

No, take some time to read this: http://www.spectacle.org/797/finkel.html . In context, it was clearly bashing lawyers, in part for the way they were hired by the wealthy to prey upon the uneducated who could not understand the contracts they entered into. (And could not afford a lawyer to read and explain them!)

SB

Re:Henry VI's famous line about them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41236515)

Not so much contracts; more like as king he planned to seize all private property and wealth and didn't want any legal challenges.

Re:Henry VI's famous line about them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241503)

Okay, I read your cited link, but I disagree. Given the referenced conversation between the villains about parchment (contracts) being able to bind a man, the best reason to kill the lawyers is that they would see the danger in the contract, otherwise, why wouldn't the "Dick" instead hire all the lawyers or, as king, reserve them to himself alone. At best, the dialogue cited can be seen as a two edged sword. As far as the poor being unable to pay for a lawyer, then as now, a lawyers time ordinarily runs about 10 hours of ordinary work for 1 hour of lawyers time. That is, of course, relative to the time of the client so that the wealthier the client, the more expensive the lawyer (but, of course, I have digressed).

Why the Apple v Samsung mention? (5, Informative)

the computer guy nex (916959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234079)

Both companies bring products to market, so by definition they are not patent trolls.

Oh wait, mentioning iOS vs Android results in clicks!!

Continue on.

Re:Why the Apple v Samsung mention? (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234373)

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

From the paper, "The PAE business model focuses not on developing or commercializing patented inventions but on buying and asserting patents"

Every freakin' jackass that says Apple is a patent troll doen't know the fucking definition of patent troll!!

Re:Why the Apple v Samsung mention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234383)

Because Apple insists that they brought to the market more than they actually did.

Re:Why the Apple v Samsung mention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234551)

Both companies bring products to market, so by definition they are not patent trolls.

Oh wait, mentioning iOS vs Android results in clicks!!

Continue on.

Ehh.. that is an oversimplification. The fact that they are not SOLELY a troll-company does not immediately equal that they do not engage in troll like behaviour..

Black and white thinking (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235751)

Just because Apple produced some neat products does not mean that they can abuse the patent system and claim to be saints.

... so by definition ....

The world is not so black and white.

Patent Concern Troll Is Concerned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234093)

And Patented. Or something.

I have nothing to say (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234173)

that isn't spelled out in the sig...

unpacking those comments (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234263)

Doesn't that comment really mean something like "Yeah, it's obvious it's a god damn problem but we have to be careful how we say it lest we piss off our corporate overlords." ?

Nothing has "moved" (4, Insightful)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234309)

There are many "good" objective people who work for the government and submit reports to Congress (lawyers, scientists, accountants... Even IRS agents), however, it is important to understand that "objective people" do not make decisions for congress. They are not the "leaders" that the submitter is calling them and they have no power. The "leaders" are the representatives and senators, whose job is to cherry pick the reports for facts/out-of-context-statements that agree with their opinions. This has been going on for quite some time... After all, Benjamin Franklin wrote of the three degrees of lies, "there are lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Re:Nothing has "moved" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41234725)

There are many "good" objective people who work for the government and submit reports to Congress (lawyers, scientists, accountants... Even IRS agents), however, it is important to understand that "objective people" do not make decisions for congress. They are not the "leaders" that the submitter is calling them and they have no power. The "leaders" are the representatives and senators, whose job is to cherry pick the reports for facts/out-of-context-statements that agree with their opinions. This has been going on for quite some time... After all, Benjamin Franklin wrote of the three degrees of lies, "there are lies, damned lies, and statistics."

I don't completely agree. Right now I kinda side with this: wikipage. who controls in internet [wikipedia.org] .
The author essentially argues that the government is slow to move, but once it does the changes it makes can change the very foundations of whatever it touches. It is not that I am not worried. I am. But I do see a movement.

Re:Nothing has "moved" (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235243)

... After all, Benjamin Franklin wrote of the three degrees of lies, "there are lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Not exactly old Ben, it was somebody else [wikipedia.org] .

Just a little pedantry to go along with the morning coffee.

Re:Nothing has "moved" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41238629)

"Most things attributed to me on the Internet are things I never said."

Benjamin Franklin

The biggest troll is the USPTO itself. (5, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234497)

It too profitable accept any patent, prior art or not.
-The USPTO get fees paid for every submission
-If the patent is invalidated, the USPTO is not affected in any way.
-The USPTO has a monopoly on the situation.

Whenever you have a business doing something that the government should be doing you get issues like this. (e.g. The Fed, Private Prisons, etc.)

Oh, the USPTO *is* part of the government?
It sure doesn't act like it.
http://www.longest.com/2011/05/11/federal-government-slows-innovation-on-intentionally/ [longest.com]

Settlement Rates (2)

Grond (15515) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234661)

The vast majority of defendants settle because patent litigation is risky, disruptive, and expensive, regardless of the merits

Note that patent cases are not unique in this regard. In 2011, only 1.1% of civil cases in federal district court reached trial [uscourts.gov] . Some of the other 98.9% were disposed of through summary judgment or involuntary dismissal, but the great majority settled. The statistics are not skewed by a large number of patent cases, either. In 2011 there were only 3,337 patent suits filed, compared to 301,474 total civil cases. In other words, patent cases made up 1.1% of federal civil cases. And of that 3,337, 868 (26%!) of them didn't involve any court action past filing the suit.

Now, it is true that patent litigation is one of the more expensive kinds of litigation, and I favor a strong fee-shifting policy in order to reduce the leverage that plaintiffs have to extract nuisance settlements (i.e. settling for just under the cost of litigation). But it's not as though patent defendants are unusually likely to settle rather than go to trial. In fact, the patent trial rate is one of the highest in federal litigation, at 3.2%.

Bring back Einstein I say. (1)

videohead (1451511) | more than 2 years ago | (#41234807)

None of this patent mess would be happening if Einstein still worked at the patent office.

Re:Bring back Einstein I say. (1)

FreeFire (1957226) | more than 2 years ago | (#41237363)

Austria's having patent troll problems too?

Re:Bring back Einstein I say. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241469)

Switzerland, thank you.

He worked in Berne when he was a patent clerk.

Use it or lose it, corporate veils (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41235083)

Perhaps patent law needs to become more like trademark law. To retain a trademark, you have to use it in trade. To retain a patent, the change would require you to actually be using the patent or actively licensing it. Patent holders couldn't lurk under the bridge like a troll, waiting for an idea to become popular before leaping out and demanding tolls for their often vague and general idea. They'd have to use it from the start of lose it.

It'd also help to rip down any 'corporate veils' between patents held by holding companies in various, contrived entities. Those who get sued for patent infringement and win wouldn't be restricted to getting their legal fees from a virtually worthless entity. They could pursue the far larger holding firm, including going after its patent assets.

There is a private solution to this (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235153)

Fark apparently got one to back down by threatening to pierce the corporate veil and go after the executives directly as individuals. How about start ups bring their cases forward and crowd source their defenses with a promise that they will pierce the corporate veil and directly attack the trolls' executives and their families? The only way to legally stop this short of legal reform is to make it clear to the trolls that their wives/husbands and kids will be put into abject poverty.

And depending on how frivolous, I'd even add crowdsourcing an assault on the bar licensing of the troll's lawyers and a campaign to run their law firm's name into the ground.

Re:There is a private solution to this (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235909)

Fark apparently got one to back down by threatening to pierce the corporate veil and go after the executives directly as individuals.

This is a nice idea, but it's not as simple as just choosing to do it. Those execs have to do something that makes this possible, such as commingling their and the company's finances, that will persuade a judge that the corporation is a sham.

Make them pay. (2)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235771)

According to the CRS report, 'The vast majority of defendants settle because patent litigation is risky, disruptive, and expensive, regardless of the merits; and many [patent trolls] set royalty demands strategically well below litigation costs to make the business decision to settle an obvious one.' Businesses lose both time and money, and innovation suffers."

How about making the party that looses the lawsuit autimatically pay the costs for the winner. Wouldn't that ruin the business case for the trolls and make people think long and hard about what they patent? ... Just a thought ....

Re:Make them pay. (3, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 2 years ago | (#41236023)

This gets trotted out fairly often. The counter argument is this:

You (John Q. Public) create something actually innovative and legitimately patentable, and do so.
So does Apple, or Google, or any other huge company.
You realize they're using your invention, so ask them to pay you for it. They say no. Litigation ensues.
You spend a few thousand on your brother Vinny's legal services. They trot out a crack stable of lawyers at $300/hour/lawyer. They do a tremendous amount of analysis and preparation before their slam dunk victory.
You get stuck with a $500,000 bill because they bought better lawyers than you did.

In short, a system like this is massively disadvantageous to the little guy. Loser pays for frivolous lawsuits? Perhaps. Merely for losing? No.

Re:Make them pay. (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 2 years ago | (#41238415)

This gets trotted out fairly often. The counter argument is this:

You (John Q. Public) create something actually innovative and legitimately patentable, and do so.
So does Apple, or Google, or any other huge company.
You realize they're using your invention, so ask them to pay you for it. They say no. Litigation ensues.
You spend a few thousand on your brother Vinny's legal services. They trot out a crack stable of lawyers at $300/hour/lawyer. They do a tremendous amount of analysis and preparation before their slam dunk victory.
You get stuck with a $500,000 bill because they bought better lawyers than you did.

In short, a system like this is massively disadvantageous to the little guy. Loser pays for frivolous lawsuits? Perhaps. Merely for losing? No.

In some European countries for example, such cost payment obligations can be modified and reduced by the judge if he feels they are excessive. One would hope that judges will treat blatant patent trolls, ambulance chasers and megacorps going overboard on legal spending differently than Mr. Little Inventor Guy and his brother Vinny slogging it out with big evil Apple or Google. Especially if the case made by Mr. Little Inventor Guy and his brother had some merit even if they lost.

Re:Make them pay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245603)

In short, a system like this is massively disadvantageous to the little guy.

Not really, at least no more than usual. Both patents and and lawyers are just tools/resources. Big companies have more.

The little guy is always going to be disadvantaged if the same rules (tools) apply to both the big and the small. Only if the rules are explicitly written to advantage the little guy is that going to change.

In addition because it's IP and the value of IP is defined by the number of copies of IP you can copy/distribute and not directlly by the intrinsic creativity of the IP any fixed costs (like courtcases) can be amortized over a larger base if you're the big guy. IP law rewards distributers/copiers more than creators. IP law sucks.

Prosecutors do the same to get defendants to plead (3, Informative)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#41235865)

Prosecutor says he will go for the maximum sentence if you don't take his deal.

Idea (2)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 2 years ago | (#41237059)

Instead of just complaining about this stuff on /. and lobbying about these things, we need to write these reports the government likes. It seems to get shit done or at least gets the ball rolling.

But.. but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41238021)

But Microsoft said such IP was the backbone of innovation...

Good morning !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240863)

just that wish those lawers a good morning.

Balancing disclosure versus secured rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41248861)

Patents are supposed to be a trade where the inventor tells the world what he did in exchange for getting the right to exclusively do it for a limited time.

It is natural for an inventor to try tell as little as he can get away with but still get his rights.
      Even to the extent that he can partially describe things he has no clue how to actually build.
      The standard is that he tell enough so that someone skilled in the art should be able to understand and duplicate what he did.

If there is not enough detail for someone to do this, then perhaps the inventor should have to answer questions about what he did.
      Failure to answer reasonable questions should be grounds for dismissal of the patent on the grounds that he didn't teach what he did.
              (Either in the patent or in his second chance to do so.)

This would shift the burden of figuring out how to implement the patent from the reader to the inventor. (Or at least to the reader with the inventor's help.)
    This is more in line with the original bargain in patents and IMHO something that's broken in the current system.

Someone that does not actually practice what they taught would naturally have a harder time answering real questions about how their invention works.
    (This would both raise the bar for what constitutes an invention and may cause trolls to rethink their business plans.)

Seems like the patent office could be a clearing house for publishing frequently asked questions about patents.
No doubt, lawyers will make a great deal of money deciding what questions and answers are 'reasonable'.

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