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In an unbelievable act of chutzpah, an infamous patent troll that demands money from small businesses for using scanners, is suing the Federal Trade Commission for trying to stop its activities. The troll, which is controlled by a group of lawyers who bought old patents for $1, is whinging that the FTC is violating its free speech rights. Which rights are those? According to the troll, it has a Constitutional right to threaten small businesses with patent lawsuits — which are hugely expensive to defend —  unless they pay $1000 to license a scanner. Ars Technica has full details on the antics of the troll, which has already been driven out of several states. And if there’s anyone out there who still thinks that patent trolling encourages innovation, I’ve got a scanner you can license.

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  1. Sometimes you have to applaud the sheer ballsyness of patent trolls.

  2. So do the patents have merit and are people really infringing them? Because if that’s the case, then what’s the patent troll doing wrong?

    1. Since when can you sue the business that bought a scanner for and potential patent infringement that the scanner manufacturer may have committed. If Apple gets sued for stealing an Android patent, would every owner of an iPhone have to pay up?

    2. Wilson, I agree with you 100%. If the patents have merit and people are infringing them, then the patent “troll” is doing nothing wrong. It’s the infringers who are violating the legally held patent. When patent assertion entities (“PAEs”, aka “Patent Trolls”) sue infringers, this is what makes the entire patent system work as designed. This patent system is designed to prevent “bully companies” from stealing inventions without giving credit where credit is due. Without these PAEs/”trolls”, then the market would yield unfair competition.

  3. The whole idea of people saying patent “trolls” are evil makes me sick. They are asserting the legal rights granted to patent holders. If someone disagrees, then they need to go back to math class and study one-dimensional line charts.

    To illustrate, draw out a timeline of events in this sequence:
    1) Inventor files patent application (This costs time and money, legal fees, filing fees, and carries a big risk of now making public your invention.)
    2) After careful consideration and prosecution, USPTO grants patent to inventor. (This step is not as easy as people say. Trust me, I own a patent. It took 4.5 years of going against prior art disclosures, and spending more money and more time and more legal and filing fees.)
    3) Time passes, and then someone infringes on the patent.
    4) Because of the rights granted in step 2, the patent holder has the right to say to the infringer, “I’m sorry, you can’t use my invention.” If the infringer doesn’t play fair with the publicly known patent (or doesn’t play nice in any private negotiations with the patent holder), the patent holder can legally protect his rights granted to him by the patent in court.

    Heck, right now on GigaOm, everyone has their panties in a wad over Net Neutrality, and how the loss of neutrality is bad because large Internet providers can then manipulate traffic to best suit those who pay up (or best suit the Internet provider’s own interests). How is this any different than trying to remove the rights of PAEs? Who is going to speak up about Patent Neutrality? This PAE suing the FTC is not being “unreal”, like this blog post is titled. This PAE is seeking Patent Neutrality. Patent holders have the legal right to protect their rights granted to them by their patent(s). Take that away, and you might as well give the keys to the corporate giants, because they will now be able to steal any idea they want.

    Why don’t the GigaOm editors stop kissing IT company’s asses with their technology-driven bias and wake up to this reality. Yes, I’m calling you out, Jeff Roberts and Om Malik.

    Get out of your biased shoes and put on the shoes of the inventor who’s rights are being stripped from him with all this “patent trolls are evil” talk. We need Patent Neutrality, and I applaud any PAE who also desires to keep these rights in check, and keep the patent system working as it was designed — to prevent infringing bullies from stealing inventions with no consequences.

  4. The big difference between Net Neutrality and “patent neutrality” is that network access is a physical monopoly, like any other basic utility. Granted, the states and municipalities had a huge hand in creating them, but the laws haven’t kept up with the technology.

    Imagine that the water company charged different rates based on how you used the water in your house. Would that be acceptable? Given the infrastructure costs, there’s no alternative to the utility and thus no market to set prices.

    The sooner that broadband companies admit that they *are* just a dumb pipe, and price accordingly, the better.

    1. Physical monopoly? Why then can I get my network access from either ATT U-verse, Comcast Xfinity, or LTE from either ATT, Sprint, or Verizon (or any multitude of MVNOs)? Is this a physical monopoly? I think not. Poor analogy toddkrein. I like snoopie’s analogy, and agree that Patent Neutrality is important so the rich won’t squash the inventions and patents of the poor.

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