Patently Absurd

Patent Trolls Target 3D Printing, Seek to Limit Our Ability to Print Human Flesh


Apparently the advent of 3D printing technology is scary enough that before we’re even able to print out a new pair of shoes, patent trolls Intellectual Ventures have secured a patent that might prevent the use of 3D printing technology for making really fun stuff like cars, or zeppelins.

MIT’s Technology Review blog has taken a look at the patent and finds that it is a weirdly comprehensive attempt to enforce digital rights management (DRM) for items no one ever knew might need such protection: Read More


Booting Up: Germany Says Stop Using Internet Explorer Edition

Isn't everyone at Oktoberfest, anyway? (Photo:

The government of Germany is urging citizens to stop using Internet Explorer–at least until a security hole you could drive a Volkswagen through is fixed. But who goes back to IE once they’ve switched, even for a couple of days? [Reuters]

If you must patent troll, it’s important to get a few basic technological details correct. GitHub and Rackspace are different entities. [Wired]

It’s official–tech companies including Amazon, Yahoo, and Facebook are joining forces to form The Internet Association, their very own lobbying shop. [TNW]

Do not shell out $1,600 on eBay just to have the iPhone 5 a few days early. That would make you a chump. [CNET]

A visit to the Ace Hotel: “‘I’m just trying to figure out who those people are and do they have jobs,’ said Chip Morrow, a lawyer from Memphis, staying at the hotel while trying a prescription drug case. ‘I mean, I see laptops everywhere but I can’t figure out what everybody’s doing.'” [Marketplace]

They See Me Trollin'

Congress Considers Bill That Would Make Patent Trolls Pay, Literally

Seriously, do not fuck with startups.

Seems like just about everyone’s had it up to here with patent trolls, up to and including certain members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ars Technica reports that Oregonian Democrat Peter DeFazio has introduced a bill torturously named “Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes” Act, designed to put a stop to the most blatant instances.

You can call it the SHEILD Act. No, it does not come with either Samuel L. Jackson or an Agent Coulson. Sorry. Read More

They See Me Trollin'

Survey Says: Patent Troll Shenanigans Cost U.S. Companies $29B Annually

(Illustration by David Saracino / New York Observer.)

Patent trolls–or, as a new study drolly dubs them, “non-practicing entities”–have a business model that’s simple, elegant, and dastardly: Buy broad patents and start suing companies that could conceivably be infringing upon them. And the costs are adding up to a nice chunk of change: Two researchers estimate the costs at no fewer than $29 billion, reports Ars Technica.

Plus, that’s just direct costs for things like lawyer bills and licensing fees. A previous study by the same pair put indirect costs at the stratospheric tab of $83 billion. Read More


Booting Up: Patent Trolls Make Kids Cry Edition


App engineers are just like the original sheet music creators…or something. [Wall Street Journal]

San Francisco-based flirting app Skout shut down its forum for 13-17 year olds following a spate of child rapes linked to the app. Question: How did anyone think a location-based flirting app for 13 year olds was a good idea in the first place? [The New York Times]

Patent trolls had an app removed from the iTunes store. Seems like a pretty typical move–except that the app was a speech-to-text tool used by a mute little girl to communicate with her parents. Good going, assholes. [Hacker News]

But here’s an app you won’t miss: RIP Ping. [AllThingsD]

Meet your 2012 Thiel Fellows. These kids are probably too smart for their own good. [VentureBeat]

Hey Birchbox subscribers, don’t feel bad if you get some men’s products in your package this month. It’s just a teaser for Birchbox Man and is in no way shape or form a cruel reminder that you’re single. [TechCrunch]

And who cares if you’re single anyway? Etsy is making a major effort to hire more female engineers. Perhaps Hacker School is more your style? [AllThingsD]

They See Me Trollin'

No Sooner Does Etsy Raise $40M Than It’s Hit With a Dumb Patent Suit

(Illustration by David Saracino / New York Observer.)

Man, is there anything worse than getting mugged on payday? Just last week, Etsy announced a $40 million Series F with investors including Union Square Ventures and Accel Partners, a round that’ll help the company go global. But Unified Messaging Solutions–a subsidiary of the patent pitbulls over at Acacia Research Corporation–has other plans. GigaOm reports that firm has just filed a lawsuit accusing Etsy of infringing its patents on “methods for storing, delivering and managing messages.”

Sure it has, Unified Messaging Solutions. Sure it has. Read More

Let's Talk Trolls

Patent Trolls Lay Claim to Emoticons and the Twilight Premiere Date

Emoticons, making the world a better place one ^_^ at a time.

Say the term “patent” aloud, and the guttural “ughs” erupting from the throats of open source fans everywhere will keel you over sideways. Say the term “patent troll,” and you’ll automatically feel their collective scorn tunneling deep into your heart. But open source lovers do have a point.

Patent trolls–people who buy up patents for absurdly broad ideas and then sue companies who infringe upon them–are the kind of people who stifle innovation and inhibit the tech industry from properly exploring its creative side. They also claim to own things that should belong to the general public–like emoticons, for instance. Read More

Patently Absurd

Priceline Founder Jay Walker Sure Has Filed a Lot of Lawsuits For Someone Who’s Not a Patent Troll


Ever since Jay Walker founded Walker Digital in 1994, the company has made its fortune by spinning ideas like Priceline out into companies. But in a profile today, the Wall Street Journal reports that Mr. Walker’s new money-making strategy seems to be filing lawsuits.

Last year, the Stamford, Connecticut-based company put its patent portfolio up for auction. But although a bid was made for $135 million for ideas like “managing identities and connecting with friends online” (circa 1996) it didn’t meet Mr. Walker’s minimum.

So instead, he resorted to  teaming up with IP Navigation Group, which describes itself as a “patent monetization” firm. As FOSS Patents recently pointed out, others describe the IP Navigation Group and its affiliates a little differently., for example, says owner Erich Spangenberg runs one of the  “largest, and most litigious, patent-holding companies” and recommends a “sue first, ask questions later” approach. Read More