25 July 2011

If You Are Not Up to Speed on Patent Trolls………

Planet Money and This American Life joined forces to run Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures patent extortion ring to the ground, and it is well worth the read. (There is a link to the This American Life broadcast there)

It shows how our patent system, where I sh%$ you not, someone has patented toast, rather than being a spur to innovation, or, as they conclude:
The big companies — Google, Apple, Microsoft — will probably survive. The likely casualties are the companies out there now that no one's ever heard of that could one day take their place.
One of the more interesting bits is how they show that Myhrvold's claim that they are a purely defensive company which does not sue people is a bald faced lie.  They use a network of shell corporations to extract their tribute.

This system needs to be fixed, but the victims are largely invisible and poor, and the rentiers have lots of money, because they get paid for doing nothing, which means that it is tough to get Congress interested in this.


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