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"Fair Trolls" To Fight Patents With Patents 113

Posted by kdawson
from the living-above-the-bridge dept.
FlorianMueller writes "Can a patent troll ever be fair? Yes. The primary concern over the upcoming Defensive Patent License — a GPL-like non-aggression pact for patents — is that it might be too defensive to have the desired impact. But actually the DPL could grow very big if one or more 'Fair Trolls' are brought to life and enforce patents against companies that don't support the DPL. The 'Fair Trolls' would commit to the DPL's terms, so they would have to leave other DPL backers alone. In exchange for this, the community would gladly feed them with patentable ideas (financial rewards for contributors included). Over time, staying outside the DPL alliance would become a costly choice for companies whose products might infringe patents. The bigger the DPL pool gets, the more valuable it becomes to its members. The more aggressive the Fair Trolls are, the better for the cause."
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"Fair Trolls" To Fight Patents With Patents

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  • Okay... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:07PM (#32257326) Journal

    The benefit would be limited to non-aggression between DPL members. By agreeing to the terms of the DPL, they effectively accede to a multilateral non-aggression pact.
    What's needed is at least one (ideally more than one) entity that will assert patents from the DPL pool very aggressively and systematically against entities who don't support the DPL. By acceding to the DPL once they are attacked, the pressured parties could limit the problem to backroyalties (paying for past infringement of the patents in question) because once they make their own patents available under the DPL, they will have access to the patents in the pool.

    How is this not a cartel agreement?

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:10PM (#32257368) Journal

    and in the darkness bind them?

    Sounds like they’re taking a bunch of small trolls and defeating them with a mega-troll, but it’s okay because this one’s a nice troll. It’s our troll.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:10PM (#32257372)

    So imagine you're a small-time inventor. You come up with something cool, which unfortunately infringes on a few common-sense patents that the DPL has pre-emptively snatched up (to keep them out of the hands of the actually evil trolls).

    Do you have to commit your patent to the DPL to keep them from suing you? And in return, they'll give you a cut of the profits? That sounds...well, it's starting to sound evil. Less evil, but still evil.

  • Re:Okay... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:10PM (#32257374)

    Ask the MPEG-LA and any other standards body.

  • odd question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Coraon (1080675) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:16PM (#32257472)
    why doesn't someone patent the business plan of, buying up patents and suing companies when they try to actually produce it? then put all the trolls out of business?
  • by painandgreed (692585) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:23PM (#32257566)

    That this is the plot to "Colossus: The Forbin Project"; but with lawyers instead of ICBMs...

    Yes, but although Colossus took over the world and eliminated the US and USSR while nuking a few cities to do so, and then went on to make himself a benevolent dictator, in the end, it turned out that there really was an alien threat and Colossus was needed to protect not only against the self destructive tendencies of mankind, but them as well.

  • Waiting for Bilski (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mark Gordon (14545) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:31PM (#32257666) Homepage

    I feel like I'm trapped in a Samuel Beckett play.

  • by 3seas (184403) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:43PM (#32257790) Homepage Journal

    Your rationality is in error. All you need to protect against patent trolls is to establish copyright date time.

    Prior art. Thats what I did, and even managed to get the patent office to publish it. see references on the link I gave. And understand what it is I did. One knife, uh err double edge sword, to end all software patent fighting.

    This is how I know the most powerful tool man has is denial. But denial doesn't change what is, only trys to ignore it. But denial won't last. Sooner or later both sides will give in and accept what is of that which is universally not patentable. Physical Phenomenon, Abstract ideas, Natural Law of which mathematical equations (which many want to argue against software patents with) are only a subset of these.

    Or perhaps we can create another IP concept called "mine" and this would mean we need to "demine" for protection against "mine"?

    See the foolishness of playing that game?

    If you play someone elses game but not understand that game doesn't fit your playing piece , you will lose, no matter what you do.

  • Re:Problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:05PM (#32258040) Journal

    You're basically missing the point.

    If IBM joined the coalition for Patent Defense, then it would only be able to sue companies suing IBM for patent infringement. Companies inside the coalition would be exempt from such a risk, and would lose their exemption the moment they sued a fellow member of the coalition.

    In the case you listed above, using the scenerio that SCO was not a member of the coalition, and IBM was, IBM would not only have its own patents, but all the other members would be able to add theirs to the dogpile of patents that would ensue.

    Now, if it were the other way around, and SCO was a member of the coalition while IBM wasn't and SCO sued IBM, then SCO would not be using its patents for defensive measures and would lose the protection being a part of the coalition, and possibly might be kicked out of the coalition as a result.

    The only people who would benefit (or at least remain neutral) would be the real patent trolls, the ones that hold patents with no intention of ever making a product, who would not be subject to counter lawsuits by IBM types.

    Of course, there is nothing we can do about patent trolls, except ridicule them and their owners every chance we get, or give the area served by District Court of East Texas back to Mexico.

  • by sillybilly (668960) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:45PM (#32260084)
    Yeah, ultimately nobody on Earth can afford to stay outside the coalition, including every single corporation and every single one of the 6 billion people. Why can't we call the DPL public domain? And then you're automatically in? The DPL is just another superfluous contraption that serves no purpose, other than drain resources out of everyone with no apparent benefit in return, if every single person and corporation has to be part of it. Somebody has to fix the patent system. Its original intent was to remove secrecy and promote innovation, but these days it neither removes secrecy (have you read any recent patents, like post 1990? they don't "teach" like they used to back in 1890"), and retards innovation of others. We might as well be better off going back to full public domain of everything, and keep your secrets. Which you can anyway, patents are an incentive not to, but it seems they cause more harm to society than benefit anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:21AM (#32262176)

    Sooner or later both sides will give in and accept what is of that which is universally not patentable. Physical Phenomenon, Abstract ideas, Natural Law of which mathematical equations (which many want to argue against software patents with) are only a subset of these.

    Is anything patentable then? Every process or method can be abstracted as algorithm. Every invention has plan, a blueprint, which is as abstract as computer program. In fact, each patent application is an algorithm, you can't put matter in writing. What if someone "computerizes" someone's patented method and claims that patent doesn't apply "because it is an algorithm"? What happens once we have nanotech "smart matter"? If I program it to form a into shape of, say, some patented wrench, am I in breach of patent law? Either we abolish all patents on the ground of them being subset of

    Physical Phenomenon, Abstract ideas, Natural Law

    or we accept software patents in the lot. I am more inclined toward former then the latter, but I am not sure if world would be a better or worse place without patents. When I think about great inventors of the past, it is obvious that there were some things that needed great investments to be developed and that would never happen if, e.g. Tesla had to buy copper wire and other materials from wage he got by digging canals in 19th century New York streets. So, we see that there is an obvious conflict between what we need done (stimulate investment into invention without using tax money for it) and making clear definition of what an invention is and who should be rewarded for it. It is a tough problem that needs careful consideration.

If you are good, you will be assigned all the work. If you are real good, you will get out of it.