Payback can be slow – painfully slow – in coming, but thankfully, at last, it does seem to be showing signs of finally arriving and hitting some most unsavory types – patent trolls – squarely in the nether regions.
I’ve already waxed lyrical here about trolls and what needs to be done to up the fight in tackling this scourge.
Here, let me give you a quick review of what needs to be done:
- Patent use to be limited – a ban on claims for a term preceding their acquisition;
- Mandatory compensation of a defendant’s expenses if a lawsuit against it is either defeated in court or withdrawn;
- A ban on patent aggregators bringing lawsuits;
- An increase in the required detail and accuracy of patent descriptions, and mandatory technical expert examinations;
- The main thing: not for ideas to be patented, but their concrete practical application.
Sometimes it seems like US legislators read my blog! Finally, something is getting done – and not just anywhere, but in the state of Vermont, where the first anti-troll law has come into effect!
There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this law, but what I like most in it is that now a defendant company can demand from a patent troll reimbursement of all its legal costs if it manages to prove that the troll acted not in good faith.
Special thanks for this law being passed go to… a patent troll! And a particularly unpleasant and conniving troll at that, called MPHJ (oh how they love to hide behind abbreviations!). This troll got so carried away with its corrupt capers that it had the gall to start bombarding potential victims with letters containing demands to pay $1000 licensed deductions (sic!) for infringing the patent on the technology involved in scanning documents and their dispatch by email (sic!). Perhaps its absurdity saw it picked up by the Vermont prosecutor’s office, which fined MPHJ’s a** $10k for each sent letter. As if that wasn’t enough, it then followed up with its anti-troll law. Boom!
It has to be said that the law, despite containing some good and encouraging stuff, is still far from ideal. The above five points for example still need addressing. Still, the process has begun with gusto – after all, a law hasn’t just been drafted, it’s already been passed. It’s good start.
Another example of not being ideal: to be able to rely on this law a company has to be a local – Vermont – one (time to re-register KL?:). Still, considering the increasing noise and all-American exasperation with patent parasites, it might just be possible that this legislative practice will soon quickly spread to other states; and from there it’s not all that far to a federal level law.
A few more anti-troll tremors:
The prosecutor general of Nebraska expressed his unequivocal oh-no-you-don’t to lawyers after the MPHJ incident. In Minnesota patent trolls have been banned outright! A congressman (NY) is pushing for a very promising law targeting patent trolls, which would introduce pre-expert assessment of patent lawsuits in USPTO before they hit the courts. The Obama administration has heeded the concerns of the President – some Executive presidential actions have already been introduced and legislation is being put to Congress on protection of businesses from patent extortion. Finally, in the US Senate seven laws are up for adoption, all of which target specifically trolls.
So overall, as you can see, things are looking up. About time! There’s still a lot to do, but it’s now clear it’s all doable, not just some pipe dream. The road will nevertheless be long and hard and with unexpected turns, I’m sure. And that counts for us too directly – soon again we’ll be locking horns with greedy trolls. I’ve said before that the fight will go to the last bullet – their last bullet. And we call on all other IT companies to keep on fighting and not give up. Only then will it be possible to get rid of patent parasites once and for all. By the way, looks like the ‘big boys’ have heard my call – they’ve stopped negotiating with the trolls. What’s more, we’ll be joined by those same big boys in court fighting this disease together in front of the judge.
Yes, it will be hard and expensive – but if we don’t do it, it won’t only be more difficult in the future, it will also be agonizingly painful to part with yet larger sums of money – I mean into the hands of some grubby troll, and not towards something (new tech) worthwhile and useful to the whole of humanity. Therefore, our position is firm. No concessions to the trolling scum. For we have being right on our side. We shall fight them on the beaches, in the fields, in the streets and in the hills with all means available. We shall never surrender!