A Patent Is Legitimate, Or A Patent Is Not. Quit Hating the Player.

Some patent trolls have been busy plying their trade lately, engaging in what is essentially a protection racket, each settlement sponsoring the next rounds of attacks. Traditionally they’ve targeted megacorps that would settle just to avoid the hassle, but lately they’re going after the little guy as well.

It’s only going to get worse. Much worse. And everyone rails about those patent trolls.

Here’s the thing, though: Software patents are legitimate, or they are not. You can’t inject personal judgment calls about the notability or worth of the organization holding the patent — the same mechanics that are there for companies like Apple and Microsoft to exploit are just as legitimately used by barratrous legal vultures going after AppStore developers.

Lodsys and Intellectual Ventures have just as much legitimacy — if you agree with the current state of software patents — as the company that makes that cool gizmo that you like.

If it’s okay that Apple, Microsoft and others continually dog competitors with lawsuits over laughably trivial patents — whether to subvert competition or simply to extract a tax — then save the tears when various unencumbered leaches come gunning for targets
closer to your heart. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. If the incentives to invent are solidified by the patent system, then be thankful that organizations like IV and Lodsys are there to encourage such innovation.

Maybe next time those lawsuit victims shouldn’t go copying other people’s inventions.

And the people who will pay for all of this are us. IP taxes layered on IP taxes, paying off “innovations” that aren’t innovations at all, over absurdly trivial notions like “a component
in a web browser” or “identify classes of text in a string”. If you have a hate on for Lodsys or Intellectual Ventures, then you’re approaching the problem the wrong way. It’s the game you should hate.