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Kodak Patents Sold for $525 Million

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the doctor-strangelove dept.

Patents 117

An anonymous reader writes "Intellectual Ventures and RPX Rational Patent, two companies frequently referred to as patent trolls, have snapped up the troubled Kodak company's imaging patents. Bloomberg reports that Kodak has agreed to sell the patent portfolio for $525 million, despite previous valuations of over $2 billion." New submitter speedplane adds "How many stories have we read hating on the biggest patent troll of them all? Finally we see Intellectual Ventures making their case in a Wired op-ed, filled with everything you would would expect from a company suing the tech world on thousands of dubious patents: '...the system needs intermediaries within the market — companies like Intellectual Ventures — to help sift through and navigate the published landscape. By developing focused expertise, these patent licensing entities and intermediaries can function as patent aggregators, assembling portfolios of relevant inventions and providing access through licensing.' And my favorite gem: 'Ultimately, the users of those products — you — are the ones who benefit.'"

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117 comments

...CC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338091)

Chump change.

SP (-1, Offtopic)

Rato Ruter (1008363) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338117)

Second Post? P.P.

Re:...CC (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about a year and a half ago | (#42339071)

It was a sad, sad day when they allowed the trading and amassing of ideas and exclusion of their use to others.

Before that is was land.

Before that it was wealth.

Next they will allow the trading of life itself...not wait that was done before all the above...

so who really owns the patents? (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338119)

IV is just taking money from someone to buy them up and license them out to the investors

i've read that apple and google were going to jointly buy these. chances are that they just gave money to IV just to have a neutral third party hold them

Re:so who really owns the patents? (5, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338273)

Yeah, that's like saying a hyena and a lion were going to have a leopard hold the dead antelope they both want to eat.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (4, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338371)

Could you please just stick to car analogies?

Re:so who really owns the patents? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338447)

Could you please just stick to car analogies?

the dead antelope that was hit by a car they both want to eat. All better.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (5, Funny)

Pope (17780) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338473)

OK: that's like saying a Jaguar and a Cougar were going to have a Bobcat hold the dead Impala they both want to eat.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (1, Informative)

cfulton (543949) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338631)

Now you know how to make a car analogy!! Rock on my friend.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338807)

That's quite impressive, but unfortunately there isn't a car called a "Vulture" to complete the analogy properly.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42339527)

That's quite impressive, but unfortunately there isn't a car called a "Vulture" to complete the analogy properly.

Eagle? related to the vulture family...American Motor's attempt at a USA made Quattro.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (1)

12WTF$ (979066) | about a year and a half ago | (#42339557)

Intellectual Vultures

Re:so who really owns the patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42340205)

Ineffectual Ventures. Or Vultures. Whichever.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42339809)

You should really stop posting things on the Internet for a while Your Holiness.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42340471)

Could you please just stick to car analogies?

It's more like an Apple analogy, isn't it? I mean, Hyena, Lion and Leopard are the Apple operating systems, aren't they?

Re:so who really owns the patents? (1)

hackula (2596247) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338933)

Yeah, that's like saying a Bronco and a Cobra were going to have a Jaguar hold the dead Impala they both want to eat.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (3, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338465)

To be fair, yeah, basically IV's fluffy marketing has a point. They're assholes, but they provide the service to the tech industry that they claim: the industry invents, patents, then sells their patents and gets to capitalize on the invention without the logistics of capitalizing on the invention. They lose their defense, though--they can't cross-license with these patents anymore.

Really though think about it. You have either companies A and B trying to crush each other and all other competition with their patent portfolios, stalemating each other but keeping all small entrants out of the market; or you have companies A and B selling to company C, who uses Company B's patents to bleed money out of A and company A's patents to bleed money out of B (each sells with provision of having a license to their own technology), and also crushes all small entrants. Same shit, different day.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42342729)

Or you just go to China that don't give a fuck or play these little reindeer games to get your stuff built and let 'em sue a phony shellcorp you set up to take all the losses as a tax dodge.

Don't learn from history yadda yadda the reason the west took off during the industrial revolaution is we didn't care about the old world patents and copyrights, this let our inventors stand on the shoulders of giants and build better tech. Now the USA is completely crippled by the blood sucking lawyers so its all gonna end up in Asia where they will learn by standing on the shoulders of giants to make even better tech. Hell look at the Loongson dragon CPU, here you have a MIPS CPU that has hardware accelerated X86 emulation through Bochs so you can have the long battery life of MIPS and get to have your X86 apps at nearly 85% native speed!

But not only can you NOT build that in America, hell you can't even import that into America but Intel owns X86 and won't license under FRAND so that is that.This is why Asia will be the next to rule the roost, they can come up with truly novel ideas without getting cockblocked or sued into the next life by the blood sucking lawyers. Its a damned shame but what do you expect when a country is ass deep in lawyers and all the politicians are lawyers but a lawyer's paradise?

Re:so who really owns the patents? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338477)

"Neutral" third party? Maybe you missed the "patent troll" thing. I'd explain it to you, but it might require some words with more than four or five letters, and I'd probably lose you after the first few sentences.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (1)

hackula (2596247) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338991)

Say you have a competitor. Also say I am a thief and steal your money. That gives your competitor an unfair advantage. To have a healthy, competitive, and fair marketplace, I need to steal from BOTH of you. IP law logic 101.

Re:so who really owns the patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42341765)

"Neutral" third party? Maybe you missed the "patent troll" thing. I'd explain it to you, but it might require some words with more than four or five letters, and I'd probably lose you after the first few sentences.

All I read was:

.. third party? Maybe you .. the ".. troll" thing. I'd .. it to you, but it might .. some words with more than four or five .., and I'd lose you after the first few .. .

Not sure I get you.

this is like open source, but with money (4, Informative)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338157)

i read the article and 12 companies are fronting the money for this with the ownership split between 2 holding companies

apple, google, facebook, and others are the ones buying up the patents. IV and RPX are just the holding companies to avoid nasty lawsuits about licensing terms

Re:this is like open source, but with money (2)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338383)

i read the article and 12 companies are fronting the money for this with the ownership split between 2 holding companies

apple, google, facebook, and others are the ones buying up the patents. IV and RPX are just the holding companies to avoid bad publicity about licensing terms

FTFY

Re:this is like open source, but with money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338489)

Who cares. You don't like it? Make your own tech and release it to the public domain.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (2)

maeglin (23145) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338823)

Who cares. You don't like it? Make your own tech and release it to the public domain.

Nice troll but you can't really do that without some level of fear if you can't afford a patent attorney. In this environment every Open Source / PD developer is sitting on a huge legal risk even if they were first to develop and are going to be backed by no one except maybe the EFF if the trolls come knocking.

Are the odds great that you'll be sued into oblivion? Not necessarily. Is it unreasonable that someone who is altruistically donating their time to the greater good should fear reprisals from greedy IP barons sitting on piles of obvious patents? Yes, absolutely.

The system is broken. You don't like it? Maybe you should contribute something yourself instead of posting bullshit on /.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338413)

This isn't like open source, this is like another favorite of corporations -- shell companies in tax-free havens. They're technically legal, but unethical and allow the companies to avoid liabilities in order to screw over everyone else (whether by making everyone else pay more taxes, or by avoiding a level playing field of liability.)

Hardly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338443)

The spirit of open source is about as polar opposite as you can get from the spirit of patent law. Open source is intended to promote the free access and use of technology, while patent law is intended to deny it.

Re:Hardly (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338517)

Patent law is intended (If you accept the original reading approach to the constitution) to promote the growth of the arts by ensuring that the inventor had, for a limited time, the exclusive rights to his creation. However, for copyright, that's now "until hell freezes over" and for patents it's "... on a mobile device"

Copyright length and hell freezing over (2)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338847)

However, for copyright, that's now "until hell freezes over"

Even Disney will be hard-pressed to get copyright extended beyond about 115-120 years and have it stick.

Why? Because I doubt you can get 5 justices of the Supreme Court to agree that "for a limited time" means longer than any living human has been alive.

Yes, there are and will be exceptions such as unpublished works and works which first fell under Federal copyright protection long after their creation (e.g. old previously-unpublished works, sound recordings first published prior to the early 1970s, some foreign works not published in the USA until long after their original publication, etc.), but even in those cases, if it ever reaches their bench the Supreme Court will rule that US copyright protection is limited by our Constitution to about 115-120 years from the effective date of the American copyright.

Extend these numbers if and when the maximum human lifespan goes beyond current levels.

So, instead of copyright lasting "until hell freezes over," it will last until "everyone alive when the item entered copyright is dead."

Re:Copyright length and hell freezing over (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42340743)

I doubt you can get 5 justices of the Supreme Court to agree that "for a limited time" means longer than any living human has been alive

Cast your doubts aside, in the Lessig decision they said "unlimited" means whatever Congress says it means.

Did you mean Eldred v. Ashcroft? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42342405)

More than once the court set aside the "perpetual copyright by way of multiple extension" claims because they didn't see the Sonny Bono law in 1998 as fitting into that scenario.

But if Disney tries to protect Mickey Mouse by extending copyright prior to it entering the public domain, I very much doubt the courts will ignore these arguments again, even if Disney is "smart enough" to get other countries to extend their copyrights first so America can be seen to be extending its copyrights in the interests of international harmonization.

You may be right though, future Supreme Courts may allow copyrights to extend beyond 120 years, but not until after Mickey Mouse is in the public domain.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (4, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338457)

I don't think we have the same definition of open source. For one, IV and RPX are about as closed source as you can get - you can't even buy the things from them that they are suing over. At least Microsoft gives you something before it locks you into its OS or product suite. Furthermore, there's gotta be something in this for IV and RPX. Their lawyers don't get out of bed for less than 7 figures. As best as I can figure, the companies that bought the patents have perpetual license rights to them, and IV and RPX can sue everybody else for eleventy hojillion dollars for anything having to do with taking, storing, transforming and thinking about a picture.

On the upside, maybe the losers in the bidding war will lobby Congress to get IV and RPX off of their back.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42339181)

I think you're confusing free and open. Patents are by definition open source. The patent is view able by anyone at no cost. They can even distribute it. What they can't do is sell or make available tech based on the patent unless the patent holder or a patent licensee with that right says they can.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338563)

Great. So we've gone from big companies sueing each other into oblivion, to big companies forming powerful patent cabals. Must suck to be part of a start-up.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338747)

really? in the 1970's IBM and 6 other huge companies owned the computing market with mainframes

Microsoft and Apple took it from them by selling toys compared to what IBM was selling at the time. same thing is happening with ARM taking on Intel

Re:this is like open source, but with money (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42340073)

Both Unix and MS-DOS derivatives owe their existence to the fact that IBM and AT&T were operating under consent decrees.

Without the fact that IBM got slapped down by federal regulators the face of computing as you know it would not exist.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (2, Informative)

tgd (2822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338963)

Great. So we've gone from big companies sueing each other into oblivion, to big companies forming powerful patent cabals. Must suck to be part of a start-up.

No, that's how the economy has worked since the start of the industrial revolution, and precisely the intent of patent law. Its been just fine for startups for 200 years. You either pay to license IP, or you develop something substantial enough on your own to warrant cross-licensing.

Google "patent thicket" and get reading. Of particular interest are loom and sewing machine companies of the 1800's, the telegraph companies of the 1800's and the mechanical calculator companies of the late 19th and early 20th century. There's some good stories to be had there, and they'll open your eyes.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42340193)

The fact that we are repeating the insanity does not make it any more sane. All it really demonstrates is that we fail to learn from history.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (1)

tgd (2822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42342345)

The fact that we are repeating the insanity does not make it any more sane. All it really demonstrates is that we fail to learn from history.

You aren't a farmer right now because of those laws. Something you'd understand if you "learned from history". Industrialization happened (globally, not just in the US) in countries that protected intellectual property. (Hell, even China started to see significant growth in quality of life for its population once it started to crack down on it.)

Individuals and companies that aren't rewarded for their risk don't take the risk.

You may wish to believe otherwise, but that's a cold, hard fact backed by direct evidence.

Re:this is like open source, but with money (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about a year and a half ago | (#42342761)

apple, google, facebook, and others are the ones buying up the patents. IV and RPX are just the holding companies to avoid nasty lawsuits about licensing terms

Reading between the lines, IV and RPX are being used as holding companies to avoid nasty lawsuits against Apple, Google and Facebook about other IV- and RPX-held patents.

If you can't beat 'em...

Suck it! Nikon, Canon, Apple .... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338163)

Just suck it!

Oh I wish ....I wish! I went to Law school and went into this business.

What's the fucking point in being a creator when someone like these can just crush you or get at least a "creator tax" on what you did!

Yes, I could justify my sleazy behaviour by just putting my student loan bill next to my mirror.

Self-delusion is a powerful thing among humans. Just ask a fundamental Christian or Muslim.

Re:Suck it! Nikon, Canon, Apple .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338223)

You seem to be fairly self deluded yourself.

Ah - Ad hominem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338309)

You seem to be fairly self deluded yourself.

Explain asshole - or shut the fuck up.

You know, I'm really tired of this indirect insults usign sracasm and implications.

Spit it out asshole. What the fuck are you saying?

By the way, I think you're an asshole - a really really cowardly asshole because as an 'AC' you could just competely flame me, but instead, you imply shit.

Kind of like when I said to your mother, "I need to give you an enema." right before I fucked her up the ass.

And she moanded in delight like any slut.

Re:Ah - Ad hominem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338543)

Damn, better get back on your meds before you shoot up a schoolyard.

Apple v. Samsung my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338183)

With the patents Kodak holds, Intellectual Ventures can sue anyone for just about anything. They're making the best case for patent reform without any help!

Nikon, Canon, and Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338211)

Prepare for lawsuits on your light-tight boxes designed to focus and narrow beams of light in 3.. 2.. 1...

Re:Nikon, Canon, and Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338283)

you can add Samsung, Leica and all the other Camera Makers to the list as well.
Then you might as well throw in Apple, Samsung (Again), Microsoft, Nokia, Sony(again) and every other Phone and Fondleslab maker into the mix as well.

The Patent that Nikon recently applied for to convert a Film Camera into a Digital Camera suddenly seems to make a whole deal of sense.
Dig out that old F3/F4/F5/F100 body.

Re:Nikon, Canon, and Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42341587)

My light tight box is unaware of your digital maladies.

Aww, how adorable... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338215)

The complexity, and getting-sued risk, of tech patents are just so high that we need good, honest, businessmen like Intellectual Ventures to help us sort it all out for a small fee...

Seriously, you know that you are a morally bankrupt fucker when you are the one making that argument in your favor. Sure, in countries with shitty regulatory environments and 'rule of law' that exists largely as a punchline, you have a class of professional 'fixers', who know how to make things happen when provided with a suitable supply of grease for the correct palms, along with a supply of thugs to which you can pay for 'protection' to ensure that bad things don't happen. Those, though, at least have the decency to keep their mouths shut, and recognize that they are a symptom of a sick, dysfunctional system. IV has the audacity to argue that needing to hire a fixer and pay protection money for the privilege of selling a product without being nuked into a smoking crater is a good thing. Where is the osteosarcoma fairy when we need her?

Re:Aww, how adorable... (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338261)

Sure, in countries with shitty regulatory environments and 'rule of law' that exists largely as a punchline, you have a class of professional 'fixers', who know how to make things happen when provided with a suitable supply of grease for the correct palms, along with a supply of thugs to which you can pay for 'protection' to ensure that bad things don't happen.

Like in the American patent system? --Braces for down-modding--

Re:Aww, how adorable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338285)

Where is the osteosarcoma fairy when we need her?

she is busy in south america. sorry, maybe next year!

Re:Aww, how adorable... (5, Funny)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338471)

The complexity, and getting-sued risk, of tech patents are just so high that we need good, honest, businessmen like Intellectual Ventures to help us sort it all out for a small fee...

Why didn't they just name this company Intellectual Vultures? I would at least respect them for their honesty if they did.

no one benefits (1, Interesting)

alienzed (732782) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338229)

when greed wins. What has the world come to when we openly reward those who thrive on preventing anyone from benefiting from human progress unless they themselves can derive unearned profit from it?

Re:no one benefits (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338345)

Yes. The alternative of Kodak laying off tens of thousands of people would definitely please RMS and yourself. Please go drink gasoline.

There Are Going to Be Laid Off Anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338897)

Wall St expects public companies to be profitable *every* quarter. The number of jobs is a direct function of how much money you bring in. If you bring in less money than your spend, jobs will get cut. Kodak could have only kept the jobs if they were licensed for recurring revenue. A one-time cash infusion might be useful for restructuring, but is useless in saving jobs (a recurring cost). What a one-time cash infusion does do, is hit the numbers big for one accounting period during which executives beat their numbers and get bonuses, and then they leave.

Re:There Are Going to Be Laid Off Anyway (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42339031)

The alternative is going bankrupt. Kodak has already done much of its restructure, but it needs cash flow in the interim. Cut the usual 'Wall St fat cats are crushing the man' BS, it's just a company trying to stay afloat.

Re:no one benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42340137)

Yes. The alternative of Kodak laying off tens of thousands of people would definitely please RMS and yourself. Please go drink gasoline.

And you think this will delay Kodak laying off 1,000's of workers with nothing to work on? Hardly.

Consider the opposite model (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338249)

What Intellectual Ventures is trying to do (as they suggest) is create a patent environment where at least the relevant property can be bought/sold for proper licensing purposes. Consider instead the model where the Apples or Microsofts of the world hold patents and refuse to license (or do so reluctantly and at an extorted price) and ask yourself which you prefer. If reform isn't coming (and no signs would suggest that it is) then this might be the lesser of two evils.

Or maybe not, who knows.

Re:Consider the opposite model (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338357)

Just curious, but when has Microsoft refused top license something?

..or were you just talking out your ass there?

It seems to me that Microsoft is the opposite of Apple in the sense that instead of refusing the license their patents, they go overboard in the other direction and browbeat companies into licensing their patents.

But hey, why be accurate, right? No point being accurate.. being right and shit is for suckers.

Re:Consider the opposite model (0)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338393)

Sorry Steve Ballmer, didn't mean to belittle all that good work you are doing over there...

Re:Consider the opposite model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338667)

So you have no example at all of Microsoft refusing the license something, even though you declared that they do it all the time?

You must be Larry Ellison.

Re:Consider the opposite model (2)

tgd (2822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42339045)

Just curious, but when has Microsoft refused top license something?

But hey, why be accurate, right? No point being accurate.. being right and shit is for suckers.

You're exactly right. Microsoft spends nearly $10b a year in pure research, and loves licensing patents on that research. They make a significant chunk of revenue on patents on a ton of things -- not just hardware and software. And they're very aggressive about cross-licensing. That's why the amount MS makes off an Android phone varies by manufacturer -- the license costs cover just the value imbalance of the cross-licensed portfolios. (As they should!)

That's how technology companies have worked since they came into existence, its nothing new, and its (frankly) not broken these days. The system is working exactly as designed, and exactly as it has for 150+ years.

Re:Consider the opposite model (1)

lilrobbie (1193045) | about a year and a half ago | (#42341283)

Except... I don't know which innovations Microsoft is getting paid for on Android.

The practice of how patents work is not broken you are correct. What is broken is the types of patents that can be made. For example, patenting a one-click button to purchase an order off a website (remember that fiasco?), seems to badly fail the non-obvious requirement. Likewise, touch gestures have been in movies years before MS & Apple started patenting them.

This is the key problem. Microsoft has not contributed (from what I can tell) any useful advice, experience, designs or code to Android. So no, in my book, they deserve not a red cent of profit from the Android markets.

Re:Consider the opposite model (1)

tgd (2822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42342299)

This is the key problem. Microsoft has not contributed (from what I can tell) any useful advice, experience, designs or code to Android. So no, in my book, they deserve not a red cent of profit from the Android markets.

That's a pretty ignorant position to take, lacking even a single bit of information on the subject. That's simply an attempt at "I know what I want to think, and I'll try to talk like its a rational position".

Re:Consider the opposite model (1)

lilrobbie (1193045) | about a year and a half ago | (#42342735)

Likewise, your position is the identical, just your default assumption is on the opposite.

Re:Consider the opposite model (1)

lilrobbie (1193045) | about a year and a half ago | (#42342805)

For the sake of discussion, the list of patents Microsoft is using to gain these royalties can be found here: http://androidcommunity.com/barnes-noble-reveals-microsofts-android-patents-in-detail-20111114/ [androidcommunity.com]

As a professional software developer... it boggles my mind that these things are patented.

So even though its just opinion (as is your whole argument)... it is hardly as "uninformed" as you want to believe ;)

The 235 patents in Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42340159)

Or whatever the number was.

Not only not license them, but wouldn't even say what they were!

Re:Consider the opposite model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338367)

Reform is coming. It just won't come from the government. It will be forced upon the parties who prefer the status quo. Think 3D printing, open source ecology and the like. There are some of us who have noticed that the problems we face are too big for a few "lone inventors" to solve. We all will have to work together to solve the big ones and patents will just get in the way.

Re:Consider the opposite model (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338707)

Consider instead the model where the Apples or Microsofts of the world hold patents and refuse to license...

Intellectual Ventures is a "holding company" that represents - yes - Apple, Facebook, Google, and several other *BIG NAME* "players".

Re:Consider the opposite model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42342603)

no, a bigger feud between giant companies will encourage real reform, the lesser of two evils will maintain the status quo.

In a bastard's game the bastards win. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338277)

At some point IP trolling will become so entrenched that it will become impossible to create a legitimate product. Nobody seems interested in fixing patent law, so this is the inevitable future. Our companies will be paralyzed in legal gridlock as every parasite lawyer nest tries to get their illegitimate cut.

There is one good thing about patent trolls, however. Since they don't sell anything, they have no incentive to go after things that make no money. They exist only to leech money off others, so they are completely toothless against open source projects.

Maybe there is a bright future for 3D printers and DIY hardware. (And "lawless" chinese grey market mfgrs that are largely free to ignore patent nonsense)

Blaming the wrong people... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338289)

Patents are temporary monopolies / permission slips granted by the governments. Some of you out there like the government because you like having to deal with only one thug. People bitching about IV are hating the player, not the game.

In a truly free society, government wouldn't exist, and companies like IV wouldn't exist either. Both are provably unnecessary, and create higher prices for all.

Mispronounced 'pay' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338291)

I think they mispronounced 'pay' as 'benefit'.

How to deal with patent trolls (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338293)

I have been threatened by a patent troll, Acacia Research Group [acaciatechnologies.com] , several times. They didn't invent CDROMs or HTML, but they acquired a patent for putting HTML on a CDROM. They threatened to sue me for doing the same. I was doing it before the date of their patent, so I figured I had prior art. So I decided on the following course of action: do nothing. I filed their letter, and ignored them. A few months later they sent me a more threatening letter. I ignored that one too.

Several years later, I received another letter from them about another dubious patent they claimed I was violating. I wasn't, and figured they were just fishing, so I ignored that letter too.

Then, years after that I received another threatening letter about the original "HTML on CDROM" patent. This was after the KSR International v Teleflex [wikipedia.org] Supreme Court ruling that invalidated these kinds of "combination" patents. So again I decided to just ignore them. I never heard from them again.

So if you are threatened by a patent troll, my recommendation for an initial response , is to just ignore them. My experience is that works 100% of them time, but YMMV. They probably have no reason to believe you are actually violating their patents, are are just shotgunning letters out to a long list of target companies, in the hopes that there are some dufuses that will just roll over a offer to settle. If everyone ignores them are much as possible, and impedes their attempts to extort, then their business model falls apart.

Re:How to deal with patent trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338431)

Why didn't you simple contact the patent office pointing out you had prior art, prove it, and get their patent removed?

Re:How to deal with patent trolls (3, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338603)

I'm thinking, because that would have made him a target.

Re:How to deal with patent trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338687)

sounds like my legal strategy...I better patent this and sue ShangaiBill

Pocket change for Google (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338327)

For only $550M, why didn't Google buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Sergey personally), and I'm sure Android infringes on one or more of the patents. Google could indemnify all Android manufacturers and software developers.

Re:Pocket change for Google (3, Insightful)

Hes Nikke (237581) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338429)

For only $550M, why didn't Google buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Sergey personally), and I'm sure Android infringes on one or more of the patents. Google could indemnify all Android manufacturers and software developers.

-- or --

For only $550M, why didn't Apple buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Cook personally), and I'm sure iOS infringes on one or more of the patents. Apple could indemnify all iOS manufacturers and software developers.

-- or --

For only $550M, why didn't Microsoft buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Balmer personally), and I'm sure Windows infringes on one or more of the patents. Microsoft could indemnify all Windows manufacturers and software developers.

Do you see the problem yet? you'd have yourself a bidding war for a patent portfolio valued at $2 billion.

Re:Pocket change for Google (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338841)

Because it would have went to a bidding war. Kodak would have made out, but $550 divided by google apple facebook et all is much cheaper than google and apple in a bidding war.

Re:Pocket change for Google (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338449)

why didn't Google buy the patents?

They did. Did you read the article?

Re:Pocket change for Google (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338585)

why didn't Google buy the patents?

They did. Did you read the article?

This is Slashdot, of course not.

Besides, why would I read the article when the summary is quite clear about the purchasers:

"Intellectual Ventures and RPX Rational Patent, two companies frequently referred to as patent trolls, have snapped up the troubled Kodak company's imaging patents.

Re:Pocket change for Google (3, Informative)

mordenkhai (1167617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338801)

As usual the summary tells a tiny bit and its not the whole story so from the article here is your answer:

A group including Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) agreed to buy patents from bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co. for about $525 million, gaining the right to use the digital technology to capture and share photos.

The group is led by Intellectual Ventures Management LLC and RPX Corp. (RPXC), Kodak said in a statement today. Google, Apple and RIM are among the 12 companies that will license the patents in the deal, according to a court filing. Under the terms, Intellectual Ventures will split the payment with the licensees.

Facebook Inc. (FB), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) also are part of the group, the court filing shows, along with Samsung Electronics Co., Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE), Fujifilm Holdings Corp. (4901), Huawei Technologies Co., HTC Corp. (2498) and Shutterfly Inc. (SFLY) The auctioned patents -- more than 1,100 related to the capture, manipulation and sharing of digital images -- were previously estimated by advisory firm 284 Partners LLC to be worth as much as $2.6 billion.

“This is a fraction of our overall patent portfolio,” said Chris Veronda, a spokesman for Rochester, New York-based Kodak. “We retain ownership of about 9,600 other patents for our ongoing businesses.” The agreement resolves all patent-infringement lawsuits between Kodak and the 12 licensees, Veronda said. That includes suits Kodak had against Apple, RIM, Fujifilm, HTC, Samsung and Shutterfly. In a May filing, Kodak had said Apple alone owed it more than $1 billion in patent royalties.

Re:Pocket change for Google (1)

Formorian (1111751) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338835)

Of which Google is part of the 12 companies fronting the money for these patents.

Re:Pocket change for Google (1)

erice (13380) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338505)

For only $550M, why didn't Google buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Sergey personally), and I'm sure Android infringes on one or more of the patents. Google could indemnify all Android manufacturers and software developers.

Probably because it wouldn't be $550M if Google tried to buy them exclusively. It would start a bidding war where, if they won, they would end up paying much more, and if they lost would mean that they would get sued for infringement by the winner. Buying in a group is cheaper and it keeps the patents from being used as weapons, at least between the partners.

"Intellectual Ventures" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338421)

My mistake. I thought it read "Intellectual Vultures". Sorry

So what is value of Kodak (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338439)

It has been said that Kodak made a management mistake in not leveraging their patents into digitial procucts. I think this sale, however, shows that the practical value of the patents is to prevent innovation, not create products. If the patents had real value, in terms of products, then Apple or Google or MS may have bought them. As is, the situation appears to be another case of a firm possessing some basic patents and technology, but nothing that can create a product. Truly the product patent is what is valuable. The patent on a camera, not the patent on a button that can be pressed to release a barrier that separates the interior of an light tight box to an aperture.

At some point this patent silliness has to end. Patent troll companies are hoping that it will last long enough to make a quick buck, and this is what is clearly driving the value of some patent portfolios. One thing that used to happen is that someone with an idea would sell it to someone else who could monetize it. This might seem unfair, I mean the inventor of the bar code did not get rich, but neither did he do the work to market it to the point where it was really valuable. In the current situation we have people sitting on ideas waiting for someone else to create a product that uses the idea so the product manufacturer can be sued. I don't know if this is the best way to innovate.

Re:So what is value of Kodak (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338637)

Whatever it was, it's less now.

Re:So what is value of Kodak (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42339775)

I think you post is a bit confusing. As you said, if the patents had real value Google et. al. would be buying them – which they are via a 3rd party – ergo they have real value.

Let me posit a question – why would you spend time, money, and energy developing a innovated new product when a competitor can copy it for pennies on the dollar? You suggest that inventors should sell their ideas to monetize them. What happens when they are stolen? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kearns)

However, poor execution is not going to make a brilliant idea a success – which was Kodak’s problem. Cell phones is an interesting category. It got a wide range of patents covering hardware, software, networking, signal processing, computer applications, etc.

Look – the patent system is broken. After all, one can patent toast. http://www.google.com/patents?id=IpwDAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract#v=onepage&q&f=false [google.com]

There are 2 choices. Fix the current system so only high quality patents get in – my preferred option. We would still have “patent trolls”, but at least they would not be pursing abusive overly wide patents. The other is to come up with a new system – and I have not heard a good one yet.

"How many stories have we read hating on... (0)

John Hasler (414242) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338551)

...the biggest patent troll of them all?"

Apple? Too many (and I don't even like Apple).

Double Standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338665)

Why is a company whose primary income is patent licensing called a troll, but a large diversified corporation that uses its patent portfolio just as aggressively is not?

Re:Double Standard? (1)

GoogleShill (2732413) | about a year and a half ago | (#42342245)

Because the troll produces absolutely nothing that they can be sued in retaliation for. A large corporation ostensibly creates products in which they can be sued for patent violations on as well, creating the situation of mutually-assured-destruction that we have in the mobile sector now. You will become a target if you get too aggressive.

Patent trolls are just scumbag lawyers who produce nothing, provide no benefit to society and accept no risk other than the time they spend arguing in court.

Valid points but they overstate their case (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42338677)

While there is no doubt SOME benefit to having a "secondary market" for patents when the primary user ceases to exist, and while there is SOME benefit to having "patent experts" who "know the landscape," the current state of affairs is way out of balance.

When patents - whether owned by a practicing entity or not - deter advancements in the useful arts rather than promoting it, the patents in question and possibly the entire patent system has exceeded its Constitutional mandate and boundaries.

Such is the case with a significant number of IT-related patents today.

RIP Kodak (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42338765)

What a waste of all the work and creativity of the people that worked at Kodak.

Wow. (2)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year and a half ago | (#42339057)

Bloomberg reports that Kodak has agreed to sell the patent portfolio for $525 million, despite previous valuations of over $2 billion."

I just can't figure out how Kodak ended up in bankruptcy to begin with when they have leadership like this...

Didn't know WIRED is toiletpaper these days (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year and a half ago | (#42339259)

Thanks for the info.

You are the ones who benefit (1, Funny)

kawabago (551139) | about a year and a half ago | (#42339267)

Now bend over and take your benefit!

I need to put down the coffee (1, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42339531)

Intellectual Ventures and RPX Rational Patents

In my first 15ms of reading that it said, "Intellectual Vampires and RPX Railroad Patents".

Dumb question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42340335)

Don't patents expire? Why not just let them expire and do whatever once you can?

Any company or party who obtains property.... (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42340699)

... rightys in order to sue others, should be against the law as it is clearly so totally out ofi the original intent and purpose of property rights.

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