Friday, July 29, 2011

That stench coming from Marshall, Texas

You must listen to this astonishing piece of investigative journalism by NPR’s THIS AMERICAN LIFE, as they examine “when patents attack”. That’s not a typo…there's no 'i' in patents!

Patents, the thing that was meant to encourage invention: the laws that gave monetary incentives to inventors for sharing their inventions. Increasingly, as this report details– the great maw of greed has opened up and patents are now not nurturing, but rather crushing, invention.  

So who is squelching innovation in America? Hollow (operative word here) shell companies of lawyers are buying up patents, saturating the tech market and making pouncing “patent trolls” the bane of Silicon Valley.

Companies with 1984-styled names like “Intellectual Ventures” own patents so broad that you and I are right now probably infringing on them. Then, with empty offices and no employees, “based” largely out of Marshall, Texas, they sue (or threaten to sue) all and sundry for patent infringement.

Though they are not creating anything with these patents, you – the creator – will be sued or forced to pay if you want to make anything. It’s a double dip into the dark reality and future as forecasted by George Orwell AND Ayn Rand…together at last, living out the American dystopian dream. The looters and the profiteers are here in full force, and we are not winning!  

Dagny Taggart had it right when she took her brain and got the hell out of dodge.   

Because now you can be sued by those who do nothing for you who do everything. Even if it’s not a new idea, they can probably sue. There are new patents for things like toast – only it’s not toast, it’s now: the thermal refreshening of bread.

Of course you aren’t sued if you pay to use the patents they sit upon. As the show descends further into the cavernous void of one “troll on steroids”, they are told in plain Newspeak that such “businesses” merely protect and defend inventors - by which they mean their investors.

If the do-ers and creators and providers don’t pay up and comply with these trolls, they’ll go out of business. As NPR astutely notes, it’s a mafia style shakedown. Pay us and we will protect you, don’t pay us (shrug and cue your Godfather accent), who knows what’ll happen?

Earpopping. 

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