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August 29, 2005

Trolls on the Hill

Webster's defines a troll from its origin in 1616 as "a dwarf or giant in Scandinavian folklore inhabiting caves or hills". Take a gander at Rep. Chris Cannon, a legislator on Capitol Hill.

The press is the fourth estate, one of the essential pillars of democracy in keeping the public informed. Let's check in on how the fourth estate is being tended in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake Tribune (SLT) paid tribute to its home-grown Republicans in Congress pushing patent reform: Sen.Orrin Hatch & Rep. Chris Cannon.

In its clarion call of clarity, The Tribune starts with:

The inventor gets the patent. That's a hallmark of the U.S. patent system. But it could change, along with other elements of the system, under legislation being pushed by Rep. Chris Cannon and Sen. Orrin Hatch, both Utah Republicans.

Thank goodness. We certainly need a change from the inventor getting the patent - that's been wrong for so long.

Cannon says reform is needed to counter the antics of "trolls" - people who search for ideas not yet patented and then steal the innovation before the inventor can lay claim to it. A key provision of the legislation would award a patent to first one to file for it - not necessarily the first one to come up with the idea or to invent a product.

So, according to Rep. Cannon, trolls are people who steal an invention before the inventor can lay claim to it, and the only solution is to have a first-to-file system, which would allow the first-to-file to lay claim to the invention. Is there an echo here?

Business Software Alliance, a consortium of companies, including Microsoft, Apple, IBM and Intel, took out a half-page advertisement this week in Utah's major daily papers thanking Hatch for his work on patent reform.

Sen. Hatch held one meeting that was practically unattended, and there is no pending patent legislation in the Senate. Nice work, Senator. At least we know whose side you're on.

Cannon suggests that critics of the reforms have "motivations that are not straightforward" and may, in fact, be trolls.

In a related story, remember that if you're not for the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq, you may, in fact, be a terrorist. Or a pinko commie bastard; same thing, really - troll, terrorist, pinko. If you're not for us, you're against us, you Satanic demon.

Under the new legislation, Cannon says, "People who legitimately come up with ideas will have a much better and robust market and they can get paid better than they were before."

That's important, because "people who legitimately come up with ideas" rank right behind migrant fruit pickers on the wage scale.

Certainly, hard-hitting investigative journalism that uncovers the truths like those presented here build a firm foundation for keeping our nation strong. God bless America.

Posted by Patent Hawk at August 29, 2005 11:01 AM | The Patent System


Blech. Whoever said the press gets it right? The more esoteric the field, the more the media will screw up any attempt to explain it. To the extent the SLT based its article on explanations from Mr. Cannon, it also demonstrates that _he_ has no understanding of the patent system.

It's the blind leading the blind. So what else is new in Washington?

Ah, I remember the good old days - when reporters would actually take time to investigate and learn something about what they're writing, verify information, and generally, uh, work...

Posted by: Jonathan at August 29, 2005 11:34 AM