New bipartisan bill could squash the widely-hated patent troll industry for good | The Verge

New bipartisan bill could squash the widely-hated patent troll industry for good | The Verge.

It appears that today U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia introduced a piece of legislation to broad bi-partisan support which is aimed squarely at cutting down on the number of frivolous and abusive patent suits which are roiling the technology industry.


The proposed legislation would  institute a “loser pays” system for attorneys’ fee awards, would delay burdensome discovery requests until the court has first interpreted the disputed patent, and would increase transparency of patent ownership (curtailing patent troll’s favored M.O. of using multiple shell companies to hide behind and/or use a fronts in patent litigation).


This proposed litigation, while not necessarily a panacea for the the intelelctual property problems currently facing companies in the technology industry, would certainly go a long way to curb some of the more egregious and abusive tactics currently being utilized by non-practicing entities (a/k/a patent trolls).


It will be interesting to see if this bill will actually be passed into law. Here’s to hoping!


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos calls for governments to end patent wars like Apple v Samsung |

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos calls for governments to end patent wars like Apple v Samsung |

Another major mover and shaker (this time, no less than Jeff Bezos), joins the chorus of voices recognizing that the time has come for patent reform!

Study: Trolls account for 40 percent of patent lawsuits — Tech News and Analysis

Study: Trolls account for 40 percent of patent lawsuits — Tech News and Analysis.

A recent article on discusses a recent study which documents a significant spike in the number of patent suits being brought by NPEs (or “trolls” in common parlance), with such suits now making up nearly 40% of all patent litigation.

Even more disturbing is the fact that typical costs in patent litigation are now ranging from $650,000 to $5 Million (depending, largely, on the amounts of money at stake). This is a huge amount of money being tied up in IP fights that could otherwise be used in R&D or to otherwise drive innovation or fund job growth.

Of course, filed patent lawsuits are only the tip of the iceberg. This does not not include the impact of IP disputes which do not even reach the litigation stage involving threats, forced licensing deals, and disputes which settle on other bases before litigation.

UN sponsored “patent peace negotiations” underway. Is there hope on the horizon?

Here is an opportunity for there to be real and substantive dialog regarding reforming and harmonizing patent law. Sadly, it appears unlikely and true progress will be made here, but one can hope.

In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword –

In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword –

In it’s seventh installment on the iEconomy, The New York Times focuses in on the dysfunction in the current patent system. The article uses as a graphic example of the carnage regularly be wrought on certain sectors of the innovation economy the cautionary tale of a small-sh technology company names Vlingo.

Vlingo was a voice-recognition software company which became embroiled in a patent infringement suit with a much larger rival, Nuance. Vlingo ultimately prevailed at trial, but the expenses were such that company was completely drained at the end of the litigation and ended up being acquired by Nuance (the result that Nuance apparently wanted all along).

The NYT article is a good read for a view of just how broken the current system is. The article is by no means perfect. (The Apple enthusiast site correctly takes the NYT article to task for almost loosing the point of the impact of the patent system on small, outsider innovation company in its examination of Apple’s role in the process.) Nevertheless, the article does get the essential point across: in the process of trying to encourage innovation through the protection of intellectual property, the current system is now subverting its own goals, by creating an environment in which only the massive players at the very top of the market can afford the huge costs of protecting intellectual property (and protecting themselves from attempts to use IP laws to crush competitors).

Although I spend a lot of time attempting to raise awareness of the problems with our current intellectual property laws, much of my writing leave unanswered the question of what, as a company attempting to navigate these complicated and sometimes treacherous waters, should I do. Outside of actively pressing for updates and reforms to our current laws, there are actually quite a number of things that innovation companies can and should be doing.

While these steps will (and need to be, given the complexity and length of the subject matter) discussed in detail in subsequent blog posts, the two most important steps companies can take are: (1) take affirmative steps to protect your intellectual property, (2) ensure that you have processes in place within your company (or through outside resources) to ensure that your products and services are not infringing on the intellectual property of others. Both of these are significant undertakings for an innovation company, particularly ones still in the early-growth phase. These, however, are critical business considerations and failure to incorporate them into a company’s business plan can have dire consequences. As such, planning and budgeting for these as an integral part of a business’ development is a critical risk-management step.

Twitter’s Ben Lee: Tax the Trolls! (or “Cost-shifting as a deterrent to frivolous patent litigation.”)

This is an interesting opinion piece by Twitter’s Ben Lee. I absolutely agree with his proposition that US IP enforcement laws should include a cost shifting mechanism (i.e. loser pays winner’s attorneys’ fees) where the litigation is found to be frivolous. Frivolous litigation clearly is an unwanted economic drain. Unfortunately, however, such cost shifting mechanisms do not address the issues created by NPEs (i.e. patent trolls) who amass intellectual property portfolios in order to become virtual gatekeepers on the road of technological advancement. That is an issue which will require a much more subtle, nuanced approach, balancing the benefits of rewarding innovation while preventing the financial road-blocking of further innovation.


Twitter is an engineering company, and engineers like to innovate. Twitter is also well known, and, as a result, we receive patent threats and lawsuits from time to time. Many of these are baseless, and our policy is to fight them with all our might. In fact, we have never agreed to pay to settle a patent suit.

Still, even meritless lawsuits cost us money in attorney fees, and force our engineers to spend time with lawyers rather than improving our product. For example, we recently won a case regarding U.S. Patent No. 6,408,309, entitled “Method and System for Creating an Interactive Virtual Community of Famous People.” After a trial before a jury, we managed to prove that we didn’t infringe and that the asserted claims from the patent were invalid. This patent was “invented” by a patent lawyer, Dinesh Agarwal. According to his own testimony at trial, Mr. Agarwal…

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Patent Wars Are Resulting in Negative Consumer Sentiment

An interesting look into the effects on public opinion (at least in the U.S.) that the current round of patent wars is having. Of course surveys like this do beg the question: “Will this kind of negative sentiment ultimately push companies away from scorched earth patent litigation (whether as a result of legal reform or out of concern for their reputation in the market place)?” The jury is still out.