Trolling the Trolls
Patent Trolls Need Hugs?
There are lots of great things about building a company like TradeKing from scratch, and reaching various milestones along the way when you realize you are newly “on someone’s radar.” There are some crappy “radars” that no company wants to be noticed on, too, and sadly TradeKing has apparently crossed one of those unfortunate thresholds: The so-called “Patent Trolls” have started to come calling. Well, they don’t actually call, they write. Or, more accurately, their lawyers do. Over the course of the past year we have been contacted by counsel for a handful of pesky and I dare say distinctly unseemly attorneys working for firms who are in the business of really stretching the boundaries of technology patents in order to essentially extort money from us. It’s infuriating. The game, at least at the level we are exposed to it at this point, seems to be this – start with a massive (and wrong-headed) claim of patent infringement, then ultimately settle the case for an amount that is less than what you would have to pay your own lawyers to defeat the frivolous claim.
I have said it before and I say it again now – the intellectual property regime in this country is badly broken. That said, it is probably the best system in the world, …a truly sad state of affairs for all of us who love technology and want it to keep advancing in positive ways.
What that in mind, I was interested to see how some corporations are fighting back against the “patent trolls” that have been taking and using technology that really doesn’t belong to them. (And no, I didn’t single out this article just because it has the very rare element of a quoted academic from my birthplace – Camden, New Jersey.)
Turns out some of the big boys out there (Apple, Sony, Microsoft, etc.) are spending serious bucks buying up patents with the aim of pressuring other companies to license the technology and suing when they can’t reach deals. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like when huge companies squeeze smaller ones, but I like stealing even less. Let’s hope they use the strategy to protect themselves (and us) rather than taking the whole pie or turning into big company versions of predatory “trolls”. I truly hope they use their power to improve the IP landscape!
TradeKing Bigdog, Chairman and CEO
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[Image taken from Luke Robinson via Flickr]
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