While I am on the topic of IP trolling hurting innovation (and the economy), I would like to link to a recent interview on TechCrunch which reports on Mark Cuban’s recent donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Evidently, billionaire investor Mark Cuban also thinks that overly aggressive (and meritless) patent litigation is hurting small business development:
Outspoken billionaire, Mark Cuban, is fed up with America’s patent system. “Dumbass patents are crushing small businesses. I have had multiple small companies i am an investor in have to fight or pay trolls for patents that were patently ridiculous,” he says in an email to TechCrunch.
As a result, Mr. Cuban donated a whole bunch of money to the EFF to help small businesses fight patent trolls. Some background for the readers which I’ll go ahead and crib from TechCrunch:
Context: Patent trolling is an opportunistic legal practice that exploits intellectual property without the intent of innovating. Acacia research, for instance, has claimed ownership of sending medical images over the Internet, threatening costly legal retribution for anyone who doesn’t pay up. Academics have found that Cuban’s experience is no exception: roughly one-third of startups have been threatened with patent violations, often from trolls.
Mr. Cuban’s donation has resulted in the EFF creating a position dubbed “The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents.” Bravo.
As I have argued again (and again), I am by no means against zealous intellectual property protection and enforcement — otherwise I would be out of a job that I happen to like very much. My recent articles against IP trolling have resulted in certain readers questioning my bona fides as an IP crusader. Quite to the contrary, I love suing companies for IP infringement and helping my clients enforce their valid intangible assets (and delivering large jury judgments in the process).
The operative term is “valid” here. And when it looks like a litigant is throwing money into a meritless lawsuit for no other reason than to pressure a legitimate competitor into an unfair royalty license (or worse, to force a them to shut-down), then my defendant-side sympathize begin to kick full throttle.