back to article Sueball-happy patent biz slaps lawsuits on FOURTEEN tech firms

Seven electronics companies have been caught in the sights of a massive patent infringement lawsuit from Optical Devices, which is currently attempting to get a ban on the import of devices using the allegedly infringing tech from the ITC. These include everything from storage devices and servers to TVs, console gaming systems …

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Trollface

Nice products you've got there, Squire...

... be a shame if anything happened to them, know what I mean?

Now if you were to sign up for our very affordable on-going insurance policy...

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Here's a thought

How about we make it impossible to sue for infringement against technology that's been around longer than your company?

This started as a kneejerk reaction, but I think it could work. It wouldn't prevent the sale of patents between legitimate organizations, but it would significantly limit the use of shell companies...

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Re: Here's a thought

Nice in theory, but not in practice, since a new company could be easily formed to take advantage of patents they buy off an existing company or even a sole inventor who patented something a few years before saving enough money/finding investment to start a company so he can take advantage of his patent, in those positions they would defend their patents..

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Re: Here's a thought

How about something like this: any attempt to assert a patent will invalidate it unless you filed the patent in the first place, you're making products based on it or you're spending serious money on preparing to make products based on it.

IOW if its your original patent you can sit on it until it expires or you die but anybody else who holds it must either be using it to make something or be preparing to do so as soon as possible.

The threat of invalidation is there to stop a troll from selling the patent on and saying "Patent? What patent? Move along, nothing to see here" when called on being a troll.

'Serious money' means enough cash to hurt showing up in the published accounts starting no more than 18 months after buying the patents appeared in them, be clearly identified as spending for that purpose and be a significant chunk of your outgoings. No published accounts or nothing relevant in them about preparing to use the patent would be trollish behavior.

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Re: Here's a thought

I would go much further.

Unless you are utilising the patent in products produced by yourself, then you cannot assert the patent at all.

I know it makes patent licensing impossible, but I believe that licensing should not be permitted in the law either.

Patents are *all* about making R&D worthwhile so that you can profitably make things. If you're not doing R&D and not making things then you shouldn't be permitted to prevent others from doing so either.

Patent trolls and licensing are only permitted because of loopholes in the law. I don't have anything against people trading patents, but to assert them, you must be using them.

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Re: Here's a thought

Just a minor quibble (or are all quibbles minor?):

In the fine USoA we have lots of shell/shelf companies that are formed a looong time ago so if some entrepreneurial slime-monger wants to have a company that has been around longer than Job's, no problemo.

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@ skelband Re: Here's a thought

> Unless you are utilising the patent in products produced by yourself, then you cannot assert the patent at all.

Agreed! That really is probably the only way there is to get rid of patent trolls (short of abolishing patents completely).

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Re: @ skelband Here's a thought

"I know it makes patent licensing impossible, but I believe that licensing should not be permitted in the law either."

Stupidest thing I've heard in all this patent babble: licensing is what patents were created for. Or do you expect all inventors to be great managers and great salesmen? And even if they were, if I have a fantastic product (i.e. "car") that requires your invention to work (i.e. "wheel"), I would have no choice but to buy it from you. Can't supply enough? Tough luck. Quality assurance issues? Tough luck. Want some small modification? No, can't be bothered with that. Now, if I take a license on your invention, I can use it in my product, adjust it, all while funding your research for improving the invention.

Let's also not forget that without licensing, there'd be practically no standards (a lot of technology in e.g. DRAM-standards is licensed on FRAND terms) - the only way to make an invention into a standard would be to make a monopoly out of it. And we all love monopoly's, don't we.

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Re: Here's a thought

Yes it is kneejerk not to mention unthinking and completely unhinged.

There are legitimate R&D people and outfits that legitimately outsource their legal work.

It is theoretically possible to fix the problem with changes in the law. First up, instead of allowing patents to be hidden land mines, you force companies to assert them the same way the law requires you to protect a trademark. Next up you require the company to make what a reasonable person would consider a reasonable effort to resolve the issue without resorting to the sueball first. That means exchanging a series of letters from one lawyer to another laying out the patent, the item(s) infringing, and an offer of a license agreement. All of which have to be presented to the jury if you do sue. And just to keep things balanced both companies would have something to lose in court. If the alleged infringer is found to in fact have infringed, treble or even quintuple damages would be allowed. But if the party alleging the infringement is found to have not bargained in good faith, the jury can award damages to the party answering the charges up to and including a free license for the product for the life of the patent as well as all legal costs associated with defending themselves.

The problem is, at the moment the political fundraising skids are greased by all the wrong people.

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Re: @ skelband Here's a thought

> licensing is what patents were created for.

Absolute bollocks.

I'm sorry, but you've obviously bought into this concept of licensing because you don't realise that patents can work any other way.

Patents were devised so that people could do R&D and make money. End of. This whole bullshit situation of trolling only comes about because patents have been subverted to become tradable assets in their own right. Licensing is function creep, nothing more. This situation also creates the stupid situation whereby someone can hold a patent specifically to *prevent* R&D by anyone even if your not doing it yourself. WTF?

> Now, if I take a license on your invention, I can use it in my product, adjust it, all while funding your research for improving the invention.

No, it only seems unreasonable because patent terms are so long. ~5 years should be the maximum. 20 years is just plain stupid in this day and age.

> Let's also not forget that without licensing, there'd be practically no standards

Seriously? That's your argument? There would be no standards without patent licensing?

Without patent licensing there would be no need for FRAND anything.

Stop drinking the status quo kool aid and think outside the box just for a moment.

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Re: Here's a thought

> It is theoretically possible to fix the problem with changes in the law.

The main problems with patents are not actually to do with the law, they are with the US patent office itself issuing patents for things that are blatently not patentable and for things that are unreasonably vague.

And software patents. Jesus, if they were to be banned, then the vast majority of patent problems in the US and elsewhere would just disappear.

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Anonymous Coward

Patent trolling is the new high risk investment. Money for nothing if the lawsuit is won.

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Joke

Q:

What do you call 500 Lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A: A good start.

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Joke

Re: Q:

What's black and brown and looks good on a lawyer?

A rottweiler.

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Re: Q:

500? Not good enough, IMO.

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I'm gonna make you an offer

You don't sue us and we won't get you a new job holding up a motorway bridge !

With the combined power of the companies being sued the trolls could suddenly find themselves deep in the doo doo. After all people who break things can have accidents too.

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Anonymous Coward

hmmm

No US companies in there...just Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

Protectionism too methinks?

Surely Apple used optical drives at some point? HP? Dell? Microsoft?

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Re: hmmm

But do they make them or just use ones built by others?

And if they are built by the companies that are being sued, and the suit is successful, then those optical devices will be banned as well, although not the equipment that uses them.

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The choice of companies is interesting... I can't help but wonder if it's related to the non-standard disc format Nintendo uses for the Gamecube and Wii.

The reason I wonder that is because while Wii discs are weird, certain DVD drives can read them, especially models from LG...

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