Patent News

Dec. 10, 2013

IP Watchdog: The other side of the debate over patent trolls, by Joel Benjamin

This article originally appeared in IP Watchdog on December 10, 2013.

What is lacking from the debate over “patent trolls” is the “other side” of the story. In other words- who is benefiting from large multinational high tech companies being forced to deal with claims of infringement against them?

The major beneficiaries are not the patent trolls- but the thousands of single patent owners and small high tech start ups who for the first time ever-are able to monetize the enormous investments in time, money and ingenuity that they have made in their inventions.

The fact is- today, small patent owner and small tech start ups have real options to liquidate their intellectual property assets that they didn’t have before Intellectual Ventures and Acacia Research Group entered the market in the mid-2000s. If patent trolls sue big companies- then the owners of these patents were able to liquidate their investments. When the multinationals have to worry about these entities suing them it is good for the owners of the patents.

Patent trolls are not bad for them. That’s for sure.

For at least a century whenever a small-time investor approached a large company seeking to monetize/commercialize their invention- the end result was always that the large company would screw him. Patents or no patents.

The deeper issue of screwing people out of their patents is that if these huge companies can steal the IP rights behind these patents and infringe them with impunity- without the owners being able to do a thing about it (short of selling it to a patent troll) then of what credibility is a patent issued by the USPTO? When patent owners agree to sell their patents to trolls they see it as a huge upside benefit for them. What should they do- not sell out so large multinational high tech firms will not be harmed when the patent trolls tries to extort money from them with “frivolous law suits” and “jeopardize the future development of key technologies”?

The problem is large companies simply don’t worry about whether they are violating the rights of a patent owner as they know there is nothing they can do about it anyway- and- if they do- their hoards of lawyers will be thrust into action. It’s not personal- it is their corporate nature- and has been for the best part of the past century. When has the small guy not been screwed by the large corporates?

This is nothing new. Large companies rip off single patent owners all the time- in all circumstances- patents or no patents- and they have been doing it for decades. These aren’t “wild conspiracy theories” or “liberal/leftist anti-corporate rantings” but simply the way these large companies operate.

It’s no mystery as to why the corporates don’t like patent trolls

The reason why large high tech companies don’t like “patent trolls” and have convinced the public that “they are a problem” is because it is not good for them. For a change- they are getting screwed.
Forcing the multinationals to spend money to take “troublesome patents” off the market has create a new investment market for owners of intellectual property to actually be able to liquidate them and monetize all their hard work and investment.

When these patents are sold- they are taxed as new wealth is created and thus a capital gains tax is paid. Taxpayers can spend new public tax revenues that didn’t exist before. Society benefits when patents get sold to patent trolls.

How is that not a great thing for everyone except the large corporates? For the first time in history large multinational companies are getting hurt- indirectly via the people they have been stealing from all these years. It’s payback time. Real justice being pelted out right before our very eyes.

Patent trolls are not inherently bad nor a threat to anything

Patent trolls are not bad- and should definitely not be eliminated from the patent market just because the corporates don’t like the new reality that has been created.

Their lobbyists and hacks in the press claim that the trolls “stifles future development of technology.” This is bogus. Whether a court case exist against a large company in a court room or not has no bearing on whether more or less or what types of technology are or will be developed globally. These corporate entities are interested solely in their own profits- not “the future development of new technologies.” Patent trolls are a threat to nothing- on any level- certainly not to the future direction of the global development of new technologies.”

While the mainstream business and technology press will agree with anything the large high tech multinationals claim- it is about time someone stood up for all these single patent owners and what is in their interest. There is another side to this story but unfortunately this player isn’t able to hire lobbyists and PR agents to present their case to Congress.

Congress- particularly conservatives- need to understand how that there is no justified right for the government to intervene in the patent market and eliminate patent trolls. All that has happened is that the playing field in intellectual property has been leveled out- a bit- in favor of entities in the market that don’t have the luxury of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to propagate Congress by giving them only their side of the story.

Congress has no business intervening in the patent market.

To “troll for patents” is not illegal- yet the issue is being discussed in Congress. Why?

Courts should not care who owns a patent- if it is being infringed- that is the only issue that is relevant. It matters not the least who is the actual owner of the patent. If patent trolls aren’t a problem for the courts- why is the US Congress discussing the issue?

The reason is related to the huge economic resources the large companies have to hire lobbyists and PR firms to make it an issue that Congress believes they must discuss and debate. The public’s perception has been manipulated and needs to be set straight.

The other side of this story needs to be presented before any decisions are taken by Congress to eliminate the right to “troll for patents.”