back to article Someone PLEASE stop patent trolls' stroking their favorite tool, cries Google and friends

A consortium of tech giants have written to senior US politicians demanding a reform of the International Trade Commission, one of America's key federal watchdogs. The biz goliaths, represented by the ITC Working Group, claim patent trolls are unfairly using the commission to extract money from their coffers, and hamper …

  1. ratfox

    So Google, Apple and Microsoft are all agreeing to the same thing??

    …On one hand, this might mean the apocalypse is at hand. On the other hand, it might mean it's a no brainer.

    …Or that they're all trying to screw us. Hmmm…

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: ratfox

      Microsoft isn't on the list – sorry.


      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: ratfox

          There are plenty of arguments against Microsoft, but relative to other technology companies, their ratio of innovation vs patent litigation is higher.

          By and large, I concur. But let's not forget the whole FAT32 patent thing, or the repeated-and-vague "nice Android OS you have here, we own patents on the mumblemumblemumble aspects of it, so you owe us money" threats. MS' hands are not entirely clean on this front.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Hans 1

              Re: ratfox

              ????? Ever heard of SCO ????? MS' poor attempt to kill Linux ?

            2. Tom 13

              Re: they don't generally rely on dubious patent claims

              While it might be true that they don't do it often (can't be arsed to check), the occasions on which they do more than compensate for the ones they pass up.

              And I write that as a dedicated MS OS user for the last (scribble, scribble, scribble; My GAWD has it been that long?) well, let's just say almost as long as you've been coding.

      2. forquare

        Re: ratfox

        Interesting “Google” in the title is “Microsoft” in my RSS feed. Guess El Reg published it with MS then changed it later. It was k my your comment that prompted me to double check they hadn't actually been mentioned…

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The US is like a kind of big circus or pantomime fight. It is quite bizarre that it actually manages to function at all sometimes.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. HildyJ Silver badge

    As a start of a solution, let's go back to the original patent length of ten years (and also the original copyright term of 14 years, renewable once, but that's another rant).

    There is no reason a company or individual should not be able to sell a patent to a troll, elf, or other person. Said person or mythical beast should be able to profit from his, her, or its purchase. However, to be able to enforce patents from before the dawn of <fill in your technology here> against modern technologies is wrong. In today's world, 10 years is ample time to capitalize on a patent and ample time for it to become obsolete.

    Besides, this would mean Apple's original design patent will have expired. Free the rounded rectangle!

    1. Thorne

      As a simple solution, make the reward for the trolls a percentage of the damage the NPE has taken from the infringer.

      Since NPE make nothing then the damage has to be nothing as they have lost no sales. NPE trolls would vanish overnight

      1. Big_Ted

        Nah this is a non starter

        There are several NPE's some even owned by roups of companies such as Apple who buy up loads of patents form all over the place and package them on FRAND terms or similar so you can get most of the patents licences you need to cover your product for a small fee in one place. These very useful companies need to be protected for all our benifit.

        What is needed is to limit what NPE's can do, just stoping them from getting goods banned etc would be enough, they should even welcome it as the continued sale of goods could lead to more money for them.

        Most of all we need to have each patent concidered for uniqueness etc and if it should be given the ok or canceled before any court time etc happens.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Most of all we need to have each patent concidered for uniqueness

          Gads! Next you'll be asking for honest politicians!

      2. Wade Burchette Silver badge

        Another idea I have is a use-it-or-lose-it clause for businesses. If a patent is owned by a business then that business has to actually use that patent in some way. They would have 1 year from the date of the patent was granted to use it. An extension of one year can be granted if the company can prove they are trying to use the patent but have not been able to yet. Two extensions will not be granted. If the business does not use the patent, the patent becomes public domain. Before any case would go to trial, the business holding the patent must prove they will actually use the patent before they can sue anyone.

        I would have different rules for patents held by individuals. If a person patents something, he or she does not need to use the patent. But he can sell the patent to a business, in which case the use-it-or-lose-it clause takes effect starting one year from the date of sale.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      An expensive purchase gives rights to demand money?

      I paid a million for a boat load of dog pooh. Everyone should pay me £100/week for not shoving some through their letter box.

    3. Tom 13


      Good proposal. I might tweak it a bit and specifically give software patents a 7 year life, no renewal. And I might grant a bit more leeway on actual mechanical stuff, say by the same 3 years I'd cut from software.

      Yes, I see the logic of having no software patents, but if the id ten T people are going to keep them there anyway, at least we can shorten the life span. Given the state of IT, I can't see any company needing a software patent for more than 7 years. Even Linux is evolving more quickly than that.

  5. ecofeco Silver badge

    The biggest patent trolls ARE the corporations

    The biggest patent trolls ARE the very corporations complaining about it.

    Sure, there are skeevy scammers out there, but your day-to-day, year-after-year theft of patents IS done by the corporations.

  6. grumpyoldeyore

    Surprised to see Apple..

    ..on the list as I seem to recall that the ITC was their first port of call in the Nokia Wars.

  7. RyokuMas Silver badge

    Hello pot, this is kettle...

    If Google are whining about patent litigation, why this?

    1. Big_Ted

      Re: Hello pot, this is kettle...

      Maybe shock/horror because Google is not an NPE and plans to use it in the future.

      All hail Google and their beloved army

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Hello pot, this is kettle...

      Why, erm, eh. That's a ... That's a purely DEFENSIVE patent we'll have you know. Google will NEVER raise it in anger against another fine corporation that merely serves the People's needs.

      [Did I get that right? Yes, I'll go to confession to night and find out what my penance is.]

  8. Stephen 12

    The definition of a troll for the article is a company that does not produce a product so this is not MS or Google or any of the rest. I don;t actually have an issue with a patent but believe it should not be able to be sold and should only be valid for time...probably based on the cost needed to invent.

    So a swipe gesture has a shorter patent period than a specific formula or something...anyway that is my thoughts on this.

  9. Tom 13

    It truly is a sad state of affair when the likes of

    Google, Apple, and Intel can't afford to buy sufficient votes in Congress to get this passed.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021