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September 5, 2010


Paul Allen made his bundle off Microsoft as a co-founder. He then spent decades frittering money on creating tech companies that yielded little but patents. That is no small success. As any entrepreneur (or venture capitalist) can tell you, commercialization of new technology is a gauntlet which few survive to tell the tale of payoff. Now Mr. Allen has decided to assert a few of those patents his investments earned. The Economist characterized the assertion: "It targets everyone who is anyone in Silicon Valley, including Google, Apple, eBay, Yahoo! and Facebook. (But not Microsoft.)" So far, no news. What is news is the poison attitude in the mainstream press, most notably The Economist and The Wall Street Journal, mouthpieces of corporate capitalism, but not free enterprise.

The Economist refers to "non-practising entities" going to court as a problem. "Efforts to address this problem through the courts have so far failed. Legislation designed to improve matters is still stuck in Congress." The Economist generally recognizes patent protection by large corporations, such as drug companies, as business as usual.

The Wall Street Journal captured blogger Dennis Crouch in speculation mode, stating the obvious mingled with psychological projection.

"It's just unlikely he wants to shut down the Internet," Mr. Crouch said. "More likely he wants money out of this and some acknowledgment that his work 20 years ago was on the right path."

RPX runs a patent protection racket. RPX scoops up patents on the cheap to preclude assertion against its subscriber companies. RPX CEO and professional racketeer John Amster happily blabbered to the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Amster said the move to litigate is part of an "incredibly disturbing" trend in which patent holders are increasingly "seeing the opportunity to use the courts as a way to extract some degree of payment."

The news media is in the business of creating news, and inciting controversy to keep readers adrenalized. All that "as a way to extract some degree of payment."

As a way to extract some degree of payment, Patent Hawk would be delighted to invalidate these patents. But that says nothing about the legitimacy of Mr. Allen's patents. It is simply too soon to say anything about the quality of Mr. Allen's patent assertion, and it will remain that way until all appeals are exhausted, or the case is settled.

What is not legitimate is the mainstream press bad-mouthing patents just because an entrepreneur decides to exercise his legal rights.

Which is to say, don't believe what you read from anyone looking for "a way to extract some degree of payment," unless and until that person comes clean in distinguishing the difference between self-interest and legitimacy. Which is more than one can say of The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and John Amster of RPX, the real trolls in this tale.

Posted by Patent Hawk at September 5, 2010 11:53 AM | Patents In Business


I agree. Since when does asserting and enforcing patent rights make someone into a patent troll?

Posted by: patent litigation at September 13, 2010 12:08 PM

"What is not legitimate is the mainstream press bad-mouthing patents just because an entrepreneur decides to exercise his legal rights. "

QQ moar troll.

Posted by: 6000 at September 13, 2010 1:24 PM