We are truly living in the future — a dystopian future, but one nonetheless. A patent troll manages to obtain “gobbledigook” patents on using a scanner to scan to PDF, then attempts to shake down a bunch of small companies before eventually running into resistance, at which point it “forks” into a bunch of algorithmically-named shell companies, spammer-style, sending the same demands. Those demands in turn contain this beauty of Stockholm-syndrome-inducing prose:
‘You should know also that we have had a positive response from the business community to our licensing program. As you can imagine, most businesses, upon being informed that they are infringing someone’s patent rights, are interested in operating lawfully and taking a license promptly. Many companies have responded to this licensing program in such a manner. Their doing so has allowed us to determine that a fair price for a license negotiated in good faith and without the need for court action is a payment of $900 per employee. We trust that your organization will agree to conform your behavior to respect our patent rights by negotiating a license rather than continuing to accept the benefits of our patented technology without a license. Assuming this is the case, we are prepared to make this pricing available to you.’And here’s an interesting bottom line:
The best strategy for target companies? It may be to ignore the letters, at least for now. “Ignorance, surprisingly, works,” noted Prof. Chien in an e-mail exchange with Ars. Her study of startups targeted by patent trolls found that when confronted with a patent demand, 22 percent ignored it entirely. Compare that with the 35 percent that decided to fight back and 18 percent that folded. Ignoring the demand was the cheapest option ($3,000 on average) versus fighting in court, which was the most expensive ($870,000 on average). Another tactic that clearly has an effect: speaking out, even when done anonymously. It hardly seems a coincidence that the Project Paperless patents were handed off to a web of generic-sounding LLCs, with demand letters signed only by “The Licensing Team,” shortly after the “Stop Project Paperless” website went up. It suggests those behind such low-level licensing campaigns aren’t proud of their behavior. And rightly so.
debunking Ken Ring, the kiwi “long term weather prediction” “scientist” who gets trundled out every year around this time