Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Aug 2012 22:17 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless You wouldn't believe it, but something actually, truly interesting came out of the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit yesterday. Apple had conducted a survey to find out why, exactly, consumers opted to go with Android instead of the iPhone. The results are fascinating - not only do they seem to invalidate Apple's claims, they provide an unusual insight into consumer behaviour. The gist? People choose Android not because it's an iPhone copy - they choose it because of Android's unique characteristics.
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Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

I was pointing out that there's no non-arbitrary line by which we can absolutely qualify "patent trolls" without entering significantly more subjective grey areas. Many US companies no longer build any products internally whatsoever, they outsource development and do not own or invest in the means of production. They essentially own the brand + "IP", not the means of production. It's clearly a grey area, and I suspect many will be tempted to interpret patent trolling in a way that excludes themselves rather than in a way that makes sense in describing it's harmful behaviours.


Indy dev: I'm being sued by Uniloc for building an independent implementation of a software algorithm that inadvertently infringes a software parent.

Pendant dev: Hold on a sec, let me lookup what products Uniloc sells so we can find out whether or not they are patent trolling...

Pendant dev: No products on their website; patent trolling bastards!

Indy dev: What if they're selling products somewhere else under a different brand name?

Pendant dev: ...lets see...

Indy dev: I found it: they used to sell under a subsidiary called "Uniloc PC Preload" back in 2000.

Pedant dev: Yea, but that's defunct now and they're obviously a patent trolling licensing company today.

Indy dev: Wait, I found they have a US subsidiary, and have been selling "Uniloc NetAnchor CIS", does that count?

Pendant dev: Oh yea, well then they aren't patent trolls.

Indy dev: But their product is designed to protect water and power facilities from catastrophic failure, which has nothing to do with my product whatsoever.

Pendant dev: No matter, they have a product, they aren't patent trolling you my friend.

Indy dev: Even though Uniloc's official mission statement declares themselves to be a patent licensing company?

Pendant dev: ...What grey areas?


The characters above were fictitious, but the underlying company is not. Citations:
http://www.uniloc.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniloc
http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot....
http://www.osnews.com/story/26223/Minecraft_creator_sued_by_Uniloc_...


Anyways, interesting trivia: Peter Detkin, the person who first coined the term has gone on to found intellectual ventures - a patent trolling company by his own definition.

Edited 2012-08-17 07:12 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

I was pointing out that there's no non-arbitrary line by which we can absolutely qualify "patent trolls" without entering significantly more subjective grey areas. Many US companies no longer build any products internally whatsoever, they outsource development and do not own or invest in the means of production. They essentially own the brand + "IP", not the means of production. It's clearly a grey area,

There's no such grey area. Whether or not a company actually manufactures the products they sell has never been a factor in determining if the company is a "patent troll". It simply doesn't matter. Whether the company produces products (using whatever means and resources) or not at all is what counts.

Again, when the term was coined, its meaning was not a mystery -- to the contrary he was very clear about it. Trying to inject complexity into its meaning doesn't change or accomplish anything other than cause confusion for the person doing it (I guess).

Reply Parent Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ilovebeer,

Except that you needed to introduce your own subjective opinion in the mix. Even if you disagree, neither of us are wrong since it's just our opinion.

Given several companies pursuing identical offensive patent lawsuits against their victims, even you, the person who claims there is no grey, would be unable to draw any distinguishing line between them until you uncovered details about the companies that have no bearing on the legal cases.

My opinion is pragmatic in that I believe the SAME ACTION deserves the SAME LABEL regardless of other disassociated actions. The addition of irrelevant qualifications only muddies the waters. It's very conceivable that Peter Detkin's primary motivation for qualifying the term was to shift the cross hairs off his own employer and avoid self incrimination, and I can't blame him for that. It's probable he would stray from his old definition today to avoid self incrimination again.

Times change, meanings change, we all must adapt somehow.

Maybe you can offer your opinion about whether companies like Uniloc are patent trolls, and what logic you needed to follow to get there? Then compare that to the quasi-arbitrariness emphasised in my little screenplay earlier.

Reply Parent Score: 2