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December 8, 2007

Patent Blog Troll

Anti-patent blogger Patent Troll Tracker (PTT), notoriously anonymous, has generated a lot of heat and little light in his spat with hugely successful patent litigator Ray Niro. PTT flatters himself that Niro put a $5,000 bounty out to identify him. Niro nails PTT with "I view these people [anonymous bloggers] as know-nothings, afraid to reveal their identity." Niro's missed opportunity was coining the term "patent blog troll," for patent bloggers who aren't patent practitioners. What special level of hell would Dante have reserved for the anonymous patent blog troll?

Patent Troll Tracker's whole gig is disparaging patents, particularly small entity patent holders and patent enforcers. "I do take issue with so-called inventors who don't even try to commercialize and don't even try to reasonably license, but instead just go out and sue everyone," PTT writes. Patent Troll Tracker claims to be "an attorney interested in patent cases," but appears to know nothing about patents in the real world. Since the CAFC Sandisk decision, "try to reasonably license" is an invitation to a declaratory judgment action.

What's wrong with monetizing one's intellectual property? Why should it have anything to do with commercially manufacturing products? Thomas Edison, patent scumbag extraordinaire. Hey, how about those sleazy low-life universities like Stanford & MIT, that have the gall to do pioneering research and patent, and then try to profit from it? While we're at it, can we get a non-fiction book burning going here?!

Law.com's John Bringardner covers the muck, but gets the history of patent troll wrong. Bringardner credited frustrated Intel stooge Peter Detkin with originating the term in particular reference to Niro, while Niro points to Gerald Hosier, attorney for Jerome Lemelson, as the object of initial derision. Niro's vantage is corroborated.

Hal Wegner:

One of the first mentions of the term occurred in July 2001, when Brenda Sandburg authored the article, Trolling for Dollars[.] Page one … contains two photographs: The first picture is of Intel Corporation's then Assistant General Counsel, Peter Detkin, holding a small troll doll, while the second photograph shows Gerald Hosier next to one of his airplanes [purchased from his contingency fee wealth].

Word Spy:

Earliest Citation:
The assistant general counsel at semiconductor titan Intel Corp., Detkin spends much of his time these days fighting off claims of patent infringement by companies that have never made a semiconductor device. In 1999 alone, the claims topped $15 billion, Detkin said, and he hurls the epithet "patent trolls" at the companies that want Intel to pay up. He even keeps a couple of troll dolls on his desk in the gray warren of buildings at Intel's Santa Clara headquarters just as a reminder of his company's legal enemies. "We were sued for libel for the use of the term 'patent extortionists' so I came up with 'patent trolls,'" Detkin said. "A patent troll is somebody who tries to make a lot of money off a patent that they are not practicing and have no intention of practicing and in most cases never practiced."
—Brenda Sandburg, "Inventor's lawyer makes a pile from patents," The Recorder, July 30, 2001

Although Wang believes that Intel has occasionally been too quick to sue rather than settle, he maintains that the company is defending a solid patent position. Lee contrasts Intel with Stac Electronics, which last June launched a splashy patent suit against IIT's lossless data-compression processor before anyone had even seen a chip. The suit collapsed, but not before helping to sour the market for the IIT device. Wang says that he worries more about these fanciful suits from out of left field than about suits by companies like Intel. As for the Japanese, now depicted as the new patent trolls, Wang believes that for political and cultural reasons they are taking a merely defensive stance.
—"When Intel Doesn't Sue," Forbes, March 29, 1993

In a bit of ironic maturation, Detkin has since disclaimed the term "patent troll." After leaving Intel, Detkin co-founded Intellectual Ventures, a non-practicing patent accumulator.

Posted by Patent Hawk at December 8, 2007 6:06 PM | The Patent System


If all these companies that TT reports on are on the up-and-up, why do they hide behind numerous corporate shells? TT does everyone a favor by (a) disclosing how a small number of non-practicing people try to squeeze real companies for $$, a fact they try to cover by establishing numerous shell corporations, and (b) how, other than a post office box, rarely do the parties involved in these suits have any real ties to Texas, where the suits are often filed. Reminds me of the episode of the Simpsons where Selma writes to SideShow Bob that one of her hobbies is filing nuisance lawsuits.

What guys like Niro and their clients do pisses me off not only b/c it's abusive but because it's a big part of what's pushing the USPTO and Congress toward making it near impossible to get patents on things that need to be patented if society is going to benefit from them - like new drugs. But hey, who gives a rat's patootie about antibiotic resistance when you can get rich shaking down Sun in front of an ignorant jury in Marshall?

Finally, Niro's response to the TT is one of those cases where the response proves the prescience and propriety of the original actor's actions. If TT wasn't anonymous, Niro would already be trying to silence, as he tried to do to Greg Aharonian.

So let's hear it for the Troll Tracker. If you don't like the facts s/he reports, don't read the blog.

Posted by: TT Fan at December 9, 2007 7:35 AM

You seem somehow impressed with Niro's success. That certainly wasn't exactly how people will remember Bill Lerach, now is it. A few very successful litigators have done a great job of offering settlement pain just under the pain level of full-on litigation. These same people could probably profitably advise the CIA in various overseas facilities.

Seeing Gerald Hoser (yes, I know, it's deliberate) name reminded me that after the Lemelson pyramid crumbled, the same "dream team" picked up cudgles for the Washington Research Foundations tilt at the Bluetooth windmill.

I'd be a lot happier if, instead of diddling around at the PTO procedural level, we just created a "loser pays legal fees if case is taken on contingency" system to quash some of the more egregious abuses of the courts out there.


Posted by: Don't Get It at December 9, 2007 9:15 AM

TT Fan: LLCs are used to limit liability. They are a common structure for limited-life companies, as they are inexpensive.

A lot of things are abusive or egregious, such as willful intellectual property theft, but enforcing granted patent rights isn't one of them, as long as the matter has merit. Courts are supposed to pitch meritless cases out on their ear.

That Ray Niro has been a "hugely successful patent litigator" is nothing more than a statement of fact.

Patent Troll Tracker has carved a interesting niche in the patent blogging community; again, nothing more than a statement of fact. If nothing else, my entry serves to advertise his blog, and for that I must apologize in light of his moniker of "not interested in publicity," which must be considered absurd. Talk about a shell game.

And yes, thanks for reading the Patent Prospector.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at December 9, 2007 2:00 PM

The $5,000 bounty is outrageous.

The natural and forseeable consequence of the bounty will be attempted computer intrusions.

Over the past several years, underground black markets in computer vulnerabilities have sprung up. See, for instance, the PC Pro story "Black
market thrives on vulnerability trading” (7 Mar 2006).


For a deeper look, see Michael Sutton and Frank Nagle's May 2006 paper "Emerging Economic Models for Vulnerability Research”.


In their introduction (p.2), Sutton and Nagle make clear that their work is "based on models that already exist in various markets". In section 2.3, on pp.9-10, they note both "contract" and "purchase" models in the underground economy.

Ray Niro has now openly advertized a $5,000 bounty for the fruits of a computer intrusion.

This has moved from underground, black markets to open lawlessness.

It's outrageous.

Posted by: Ned Ulbricht at December 9, 2007 2:02 PM

Hey, Patent Hawk

Troll Tracker is not anti-patent - he just wants patents to be the sport of Kings - aka wealthy multinationals

He is a rich bastard himself, a patent litigator defending some well known big corporation from so-called "trolls" (aka garage inventors like myself who are financially poor and thus are not deserving patent protections in the first place)

Raise the bounty to 20K (I desperatly need a new car - spent all the money on patenting and developing invention prototype) and I will dig this son of a bitch out from PACER records -I already have a short list of candidates

Posted by: angry dude at December 17, 2007 9:47 AM

Hey, Patent Hawk

Troll Tracker is not anti-patent - he just wants patents to be the sport of Kings - aka wealthy multinationals

He is a rich bastard himself, a patent litigator defending some well known big corporation from so-called "trolls" (aka garage inventors like myself who are financially poor and thus are not deserving patent protections in the first place)

Raise the bounty to 20K (I desperatly need a new car - spent all the money on patenting and developing invention prototype) and I will dig this son of a bitch out from PACER records -I already have a short list of candidates

Posted by: angry dude at December 17, 2007 9:49 AM

Here is the deal with the TechRadium patent trolls.

(no, I have not been affected by them! I just hate maggots!)

They monitored existing technological methods and processes which were not patented and started writing patent applications while delivering an industry inferior product which was stricken by loss after loss in bidding opportunities.

Low and behold, some moron examiner grants them a patent on methods and processes which have been in existence for 20 years prior (including in educational materials dating back to the 70's) and what does TechRadium do?

They launch suits against every company they had lost bids to.
Is this the original design intent of a patent process?

Here we have a company with a very very low yearly sales record (might that infer an inferior product??) and a busy news page which has recitation after recitation of patent information in news releases.

Look at this link: http://www.techradium.com/about/pressReleases.cfm

All the markings of a well thought out subterfuge by a pond scum company.

i.e. If we cannot beat them, let’s leverage a bogus patent to extort licensing agreements.

One moronic company, BlackBoard Connect, went ahead and settled with these idiots for a cross licensing agreement!

Wanna know why?


PondScum Inc. is not trying to extort each company for a LOT of money…..just a few points.

As in a few points times thousands of companies. Classic Troll behavior.
Turns out, BlackBoard joined up with TechRadium, ahem, excuse me: PondScum.
TechRadium Reaches Agreement with Blackboard Inc. to. Cross‐License Notification Patents


You gotta just KNOW that TechRadium gave up the farm to get this agreement and then used it as a bully pulpit to attack numerous companies.

Give them credit….they chose a good victim in BlackBoard. PondScum knew if they arrived at an agreement with BB, even if it was 1/10000th of a penny on a dollar, it would bolster their troll subterfuge.

Oh, the reason BB settled? Ha! Easy. They saw that the patent was bogus, but with a near free licensing agreement….they themselves could participate in the patent advancement (and defen$e) and guess what?

PondScum agreed!

Now you have BlackBoard and PondScum commiserating and joining on co-patent technology!

So the other player the industry needs to REALLY take a look at is BlackBoard Connect!

They are sitting back, executing NDA’s with companies and reporting back to PondScum which companies are viable candidates for the next lawsuit.

Ya just can make this stuff up.

Okay. I feel better now....

Posted by: Anti_Troll at December 21, 2009 3:59 PM

I'll admit that, at first, I was against the idea of NPEs (patent trolls") profiting from others' innovations. However, after doing some research, I've come to agree that so-called "trolls" are doing nothing worse than many other companies. Notice that it's generally the large corporations that get incensed about the trolls. Most NPEs don't seem to be any worse than day traders, for instance.

Posted by: Gena777 at January 30, 2010 1:01 AM