David Farrar says “Death to Patent trolls.” David Farrar is an idiot.
So was Nikola Tesla.
So was almost every great inventor in the last 200 years*.
So is any inventor who licenses their invention rather than produce it themselves. Unlike the ignoramuses who attack them, these people aren’t trolls. They’re benefactors:
Adam Smith wrote that the division of labour is a critical way of increasing a nation’s wealth. Only if inventors can be paid for inventing, can they specialize in their profession. The only way inventors can be paid just for their inventing is if people respect their property rights. Note that Edison almost never practiced his inventions. He licensed almost all of his inventions and sued if people would not pay. Edison was not paid even a small percentage of the value he created in this world.
Ignoramuses argue that the people suing businesses these days aren’t inventors, they are (quotes Farrar) “tech-world parasites that buy up troves of intellectual property, not so that they can make a product, but so that they can turn around and sue successful companies for patent infringement with the aim of nabbing a quick and profitable settlement.”
Well, no they’re not. They’re folk who in buying the rights to inventors’ intellectual property allow them the wherewithal to practice their craft, and help improve our lives.
Patent trolls, suggests Farrar, have “infested the courts over the last decade.”
Well, no they haven’t.
Judge Michel, former head of the CAFC, the US court that hears all patent appeals, points out that the number of patent suits filed each year has remained constant at less than three thousand. Only about 100 of these suits ever go to trial. In a technology based economy with over 300 million people and 1 million active patents this is trivial.
Farrar’s cut-and-past hit job “argues” these “trolls” target small start ups. Well, no they don’t.
The reality is that so-called “Trolls” sue large entities much more often than small businesses.
In short, the ignorance about patents and the attacks on them are based on little more than envy, bullshit, ignorance and emotion.
Patents are property rights, and inventors are entitled both to protect their property, and to licence or sell their rights in it to whomever they choose.
As patent attorney Dale Halling argues, “The reality is the [manufactured] patent troll/ litigation crises is a very clever marketing ploy by large multinational companies that want to be able to steal inventors’ technology.
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* ‘“An astonishing two thirds of all America’s great inventors in the nineteenth century were actually NPEs” (Non-Practicing Entities). But today’s modern Luddites would call these great inventors trolls.’
Quote from the excellent book Great Again by Henry R. Nothhaft with David Kline. Comment by Dale Halling.
UPDATE: David Farrar responds to this post, arguing “not every person who patents something they don’t produce is a patent troll.” [Emphasis mine.]
But patent trolls [says Farrar] don’t actually come up with inventive ideas. Their inventive idea is to just file a patent over anything they can think of, even if it is not a true invention. Once they get the patent, they’ll find victims who will pay them a fee rather than go to court to get the patent over-turned.
Now this is odd for several reasons. It’s odd because the answer to Farrar, whose copy-and-paste posts normally contain most of the post from which he copies, is in the paragraphs of the post he didn’t copy: that what he calls “patent trolls” are folk who provide the wherewithal for inventors to invent without needing to manufacture, market and sell the results of their inventions themselves—for “only if inventors can be paid for inventing, can they specialize in their profession… [and] in buying the rights to inventors’ intellectual property [these folk] allow them the wherewithal to practice their craft, and help improve our lives.”
Furthermore, if what is “dreamed up” is just “anything they can think of,” if it is not “a true invention,” then why has it been granted a patent,* and more importantly why is it the parasite’s wish to use it? If it is not in any way a “true invention,” then why do they find it so damned useful they wish to steal the idea?
It’s also odd because he earlier claimed the patent trolls weren’t themselves inventors. Now he claims they are, just not inventive inventors.
Even more odd, Farrar then goes on to object to Judge Michel’s fairly telling point, above, that “patent trolls” have not “infested the courts over the last decade”—as Farrar claimed in his earlier post that they had. But Farrar’s answer is to argue that we don’t see these cases because “they don’t go to trial.” In which case, it’s impossible to see how they can be infesting the courts.
So a lot of oddness in one short post.
There is certainly an infestation about however, an infestation about which to be on guard: it is the general animus against intellectual property by folk often only too keen to take from others what they have neither earned nor paid for.
The desire for the unearned is legion. The arguments against so called “patent trolls” is just one of its latest and less attractive manifestations.
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*Yes, there are foolish patents granted, but this is an argument for improving the Patent Office, not to demolish patents altogether.