Leah Rothman was a segment director on the Dr Phil show for 12 years, until (she says) she and her co-workers were locked in a room by Dr Phil and screamed at and threatened by the show's host, who was upset by leaks from the show's staff. Read the rest
Ever since VE Holding, a 1990 Federal Circuit decision, patent holders have been able to sue their adversaries in practically any court in America, leading to competition among jurisdictions to see which one bend the furthest backwards to deliver patent-friendly decisions and so tempt the nation's most litigious companies to sue in their local courthouse. Read the rest
NPR's Planet Money looks at Intellectual Ventures, the patent-exploitation firm started by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold. Intellectual Ventures presents itself as a firm that goes to bat for inventors, buying up their patents with the intention of getting big guys who abuse them to pay up. But the reality discovered by Planet Money is very different: Intellectual Ventures doesn't put up very many compelling reference customers for their "protecting and enriching inventors" mandate, but there are examples of patents being sold on again to out-and-out trolls who make nothing but lawsuits, using shaky patents to attack big and small firms and extract rent from them. It appears there's even a town in Texas where empty office buildings house the "headquarters" of shell companies who buy poor-quality patents from distressed companies and get big judgements from a sympathetic local court. Overall, Planet Money paints a picture of software patent aggregators like IV as parasitic bullies who use their enormous patent portfolios to intimidate other firms into paying fees that end up being incorporated into the prices that you and I pay when we buy goods and services.
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It's kind of a cliche to knock on the door of the empty office. But we'd flown a long way. So we knocked. No one answered.
The office was in a corridor where all the other doors looked exactly the same —locked, nameplates over the door, no light coming out. It was a corridor of silent, empty offices with names like "Software Rights Archive," and "Bulletproof Technology of Texas."