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Patent Troll Now Armed With Thousands of Nortel Patents 220

dgharmon writes in with a story about the final outcome of thousands of Nortel patents that were bought last July. "You may recall last summer that Apple, Microsoft, EMC, RIM, Ericsson and Sony all teamed up to buy Nortel's patents for $4.5 billion. They beat out a team of Google and Intel who bid a bit less. While there was some antitrust scrutiny over the deal, it was dropped and the purchase went through. Apparently, the new owners picked off a bunch of patents to transfer to themselves... and then all (minus EMC, who, one hopes, was horrified by the plans) decided to support a massive new patent troll armed with the remaining 4,000 patents. The company is called Rockstar Consortium, and it's run by the folks who used to run Nortel's patent licensing program anyway — but now employs people whose job it is to just find other companies to threaten." On a semi-related note, there is a new petition to the White House to make a law that patent lawsuits that find for the defendant automatically fine the plaintiff three times the damages they were seeking."
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Patent Troll Now Armed With Thousands of Nortel Patents

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  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Sunday May 27, 2012 @05:07PM (#40130411)

    So a group of companies band together to buy patents and they create a single organisation to handle it. What else would they do? It is hardly likely that any company would be happy with the whole lot being overseen by one of the other member companies, and they would be in negotiation for years if they tried to split them all up.

    So the question to the submitter is: what other outcome did you expect?

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @05:16PM (#40130471) Homepage

    A civics lesson for you: the Whitehouse does not have the power to make laws. That is the exclusive domain of the Congress. You see, we have this little thing called "separation of powers"...

  • Proposal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fuzzums ( 250400 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @05:17PM (#40130479) Homepage

    You can only get money from a patent if you actually produce something that uses that patent.
    Otherwise, you can hang it on your wall and look at it.

  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @05:24PM (#40130531)

    A civics lesson for you: the Whitehouse does not have the power to make laws. That is the exclusive domain of the Congress. You see, we have this little thing called "separation of powers"...

    Very true ... but the devil is in the details. The White House can draft legislation that is then sponsored by a member of congress just like 100's of lobbyists do.

  • Re:3 times? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @05:33PM (#40130583) Journal
    Right, because corporations as people isnt a silly overreaction. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Obvious and wanton abuse of the legal system for profit should be a punishable crime, severe enough to discourage others from trying it. We put people to death for less.
  • by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @05:35PM (#40130589)

    Until Europe, India and China overtake the US.

  • On The Petition (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @05:59PM (#40130697)

    I am not sure how someone could come to the conclusion that forcing a plaintiff to pay treble damages in the event of a loss is a good idea. Patent laws are already anti-consumer/little guy enough and there's a huge number of small-time patent holders who have been screwed out of their inventions by bigger companies. Few sue as it is and even fewer win because of the ridiculous legal fees associated. Add the risk of three-times damages, and none will. This won't hurt the big guys because often enough much more money is at stake than what they ask for in court, either because the patent they hold is valid or they simply need to try to block the other guy long enough to outsell them in product. How about a law instead to stop patent trolls ? Make it so the plaintiff either has to be the original grantee or they have had to legally acquire the patent and it has to be in active use, either in production or in provable preparation for market.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @06:04PM (#40130709) Homepage Journal

    This is in clear violation of the original intent of patents.

  • by wmbetts ( 1306001 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @06:11PM (#40130743)

    Okay, this petition is stupid and will only hurt the small guy. Say for example I work really hard on something and get a patent. Time goes on and I'm making money with the patent and all is well until a big company starts infringing on it. I could sue the company. I have the 100k it takes to even start the case. but unfortunately I my lawyers aren't as good, because I don't have the 10 lawyers they have working on it. They end up wining and it would put me out of business.

    In the current setting I'd be out lawyer fees. In the new setting I'd be completely screwed even if I was seeking a reasonable amount. A reasonable amount could add up to quite a lot if the infringement is big enough. For example I'm selling my product and license out the technology for say $100 per reproduction. If they only infringed 100 times it's not that bad, but if it's mass infringement with millions of reproductions it's quite a lot, but still a fair number.

    I could get behind this if there was a stipulation of "Unless you're actively using the patent in a product" or something along those lines. That would be enough to stop the trolls and not completely screw people who are using patents the way they should be.

    I didn't pull the $100k number out of my ass either. I'm in the process of getting a patent on some items and I was told by more than one lawyer that's the starting fee (it varied a bit but that was the lowest figure) for litigation. I wanted to see if it was even worth pursuing, because if I can't afford to defend it what's the point in getting it? I guess I could have my name on a patent and that's pretty cool, but I don't know if it's $12k cool. I think I'm going to end up applying, because even if everything goes to heck I can always put it in my resume and it might be enough to make it standout.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @06:14PM (#40130755)

    Oh, prostitution is much more honorable unless it involves blackmail. Then it's just a little more honorable. Now why did I almost misspell honorable as horable, twice?

  • by belgianguy ( 1954708 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @06:17PM (#40130765)
    The rotten system just got a tad more rotten. Rockstar is the king of all patent trolls, funded by the big two software IP honchos, known for their shakedown schemes and patenting the trivially obvious. The other partners are opportunists and a few badly ailing companies seeking a hail-mary pass to avoid utter extinction. It got its approval under the guise of playing by "reasonable terms", only to disobey said promise as "not applicable to the new construct" as soon as the deal went through. With a start like that, I don't have much hope left for any ethics to be involved in their way of thinking.

    Rockstar has all the latest weaponry of an extremely litigious tech company, wealthy backers, plus the enormous advantage that it can't be countersued. It can start case after case without even batting an eye. The sheer amount of cases it can start can probably put a company out of business even before the first patent in play is reviewed.

    If you thought Oracle vs Google was perfidious, wait until Rockstar here takes aim at Android. It's only a matter of time, and to me it seems like Android was the reason this abomination was formed. They've sealed up the LTE patents, so they'll surely squeeze them on that front, while trying keep on adding layer after layer of patent licenses, with the penultimate target of drowning it and scaring the manufacturers away.

    Innovation is about to get its teeth kicked in.
  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Sunday May 27, 2012 @08:31PM (#40131343)

    According to the constitution the purpose of patents is to "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." I think it's safe to say that buying up useless patents and using them to harass new entries to the market does the opposite.

  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @08:47PM (#40131411)

    In-N-Out is not comparable to McDonalds et al. Most McDonalds are franchises; wages are not set by the corporation. In-N-Out sells a premium product. The In-N-Outs I've seen are drivethrough only.

    Ford's high wages achieved the goal of acquiring only the best workers. If all manufacturers had started to pay the same as Ford, Ford would not have gotten the best workers, the competitive advantage would disappeared, and Ford's experiment might have failed.

    Health costs are not paid for out of nothing. If a person's living expenses exceed the value of what he produces, he is a net burden on society. He then lives either on charity or theft (one form of theft is getting support from the government.)


    Worst of all is this: "In my mind Capitalism requires:"
    Capitalism does not require the fulfillment of your fantasy. Capitalism is a system which upholds rights, particularly property rights, considered from an economic perspective Capitalism's only concern with voting methods, health care, wage levels, flex hours (yikes), and other issues large and small is whether or not a person's rights are upheld and (secondarily) whether something is a good economic choice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @09:12PM (#40131525)

    During the eighteenth dynasty, the pharoah Tuthmose III gave this advice to his vizier Rekhmere regarding petitions:

    Let the petitioner present his case. Act like you are listening. Then completely ignore all his suggestions and issue the judgement what you were going to issue anyway.

    That was 3500 years ago. Have people still not learned their lesson?

  • by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @10:41PM (#40131931)

    The problem with lawyers is that the law seems to be a combination of being "correct" and/or "convincing" rather than right. This tends to lead even the more honorable lawyers down a rather crooked path as the means they have to use to deliver a just outcome are not exactly ethical if that makes any sense. The law is about technicalities when dealing with judges and charisma with juries.

    I've long believed that laws should be written as a statement of intent combined with a reason for their passage, which could then be more easily interpreted by judges. If the crime doesn't match the intent of the law, or further evidence shows that the reason isn't correct we can toss out cases and/or laws and our justice system could get back to being about right and wrong again. You'd obviously need some traditional pieces to deal with penalties and the like, but can you imagine a world where congress had to spell out both the intent of a law and its reasoning. No more loopholes, no more using laws designed for one thing being abused for another(generally at the expense of the little guy).

    Pretty much anyone could give a reasonable verdict if they knew what they were actually deciding on.

  • by CrashandDie ( 1114135 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:16AM (#40132743)

    Non-american speaking:

    Somehow, the fact you have to refer to a previous president through the use of "Dubya" either says a lot about yourself, or the state of American politics.

    Or both.

  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @06:11AM (#40133747)

    That's begging the question... What evidence do you have that these patents are "useless"? Consider, if they successfully "harass new entries to the market" then they're clearly useful, even if you don't like it.

    On the contrary. If there are new entries to the market, that indicates that the patented invention isn't so difficult to develop, therefore the patent was incorrectly approved in the first place. The only effect of patenting an idea that anybody can easily come up with is to prevent innovation.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun