From the monthly archives:

June 2010

That Troll Session-slashdot, IOU an apology

by Andrew Watson on 23 June 2010


I can’t leave Munich without a comment on that NPE session. Picture the scene. Have you ever seen the film the Fifth Element? Gary Oldman, the excellent Gary Oldman, plays the baddie, the ultimate capitalist owner of everything sold or produced worldwide, everyone’s boss. He tips a glass from his desk, breaking it on the floor of his office, little robots come out from the walls, one a hoover, one a dustpan, one to wash, one to polish, all to demonstrate to Bruce Willis, the hero, how chaos and disorder is good as it gives us mindless humans a range of purposes and keeps us busy.

I’ve just sat through the IPBC session titled “Getting to Grips with NPEs”. Now that was a session which generated real emotion in me, and showed how amazing us humans are at spending time and effort on things that are ultimately meaningless.

I went through a large range of emotions. I started out neutral . Here we go, just another session about trolls, trolls justifying why even trolls do social good (we help small inventors make money from their IP!-well done, good for you), lawyers arguing over technicalities (rule 11, blah, blah blah), the anti-troll lobby screaming about how unfair the system is to allow this abuse and Dan McCurdy (we’ll come back to him later) giving his troll stats.

I quickly got into irritated. Mainly as the session was dominated by American accents justifying their respective positions. Mild anger soon followed. More American accents, more justification, more self-justifying arguments.

Soon followed by seething. Vigorous agreement with Nokia (great speech, really great speech Dr Schneider) and Technicolor (ex Thomson, good “I hate trolls” speech Beatrice de Russé). I found myself wanting to applaud. C’mon the anti-troll lobby!!!There was little room for middle ground in the room. And, for me, the anti-troll camp has my lifetime vote.

Why? Well it is quite simple really. With one very limited exception (genuine lone inventors) I concluded that the whole troll business model is just so lacking in any creativity or social worth. I found myself asking “What went wrong in these people’s childhoods or lives to lead to a conclusion that they can look themselves in the mirror and believe that they are doing anything good?”. Daniel Papst by the way gave a good human explanation if I understand their heritage, gamekeepers turned poachers.

And then I realised I owe slashdot an apology for ever expressing any admiration for organisations that create nothing. So here I am, saying sorry and asking for forgiveness for my error. I’ve now seen the inside and see how futile it all is.

The one exception that one has to make and should make it for the small and lone inventor. He/she deserves reward if he is the godfather/mother of a new technology that creates wealth. He or she, exceptionally, deserves a fair reward. The rest of you, have you really got nothing better to do?

Dan McCurdy is a legend in the IP world. An IBMer under Marshall Phelps, a licensing expert/jobbing consultant in Thinkfire (I’m sure I recall his profile with a dollar amount against his face for his lifetime licensing dollars generated), now AST. But how can these two statements be reconciled? Statement 1, timed at about 46 minutes in “I would be delighted to close down AST tomorrow if the NPE problem went away!!” (hooray!!), and then, at around 58 minutes in “When we buy patents in for our AST members, we commit to sell them within 12 months, and we sell them to the highest bidder, we sell to operating companies, aggregators, and….to NPEs”.

Excuse me, come again….WHAT!!! You perpetuate the problem by selling on patents, to NPE’s, who can then sue those who don’t have licenses as they aren’t your members.

Go back to the first image of Gary Oldman in the Fifth Element. What peculiar beings we are. Like my kids when they’ve nothing better to do they create chaos until a parent says stop. This really does need some high up parent to say stop. The US risks damaging its credibility as a country by this worthless pursuit, threatening new innovations by imposing a totally arbitrary and senseless tax created by some out of control kids. If we have anything we in Europe we can do to stop this catching on in Europe, we really should.So sorry Slashdot again, I got it badly wrong. I apologise.

There is nothing to admire in this.


IPBC (Day 1 Review)

by Andrew Watson on 22 June 2010

In short, not much really new though a hint that the mass is moving away from talking only about patents (still a strong sub-theme to everything but at least the minds are opening) to a wider defintion of IP. Step by step.

Nir Kossovsky was excellent on reputation. A substantive move forward. Wayne Sobon was just crystal clear and highly contextual.

The Hall of Fame dinner was a privilege. Henry Blanco White’s acceptance for his father was totally charming and very English. Paul Michel’s speech was humble and modest for such a successful person.

I enjoyed our panel session. Three founders and myself. Carmen described herself as “the boss and the cleaner”. Joe is infectious and may well be an IP asset on his own. Johan I know turns out the lights and locks the doors before he goes home. All very talented but modest people. It was a super experience to be able to share the stage with them. Thanks to Joff and IAM for the invitation.


IPBC-what am I looking forward to?

June 20, 2010

Well here we are at IPBC (the IP Business Conference) 2010 in Munich at the (it has to be said) very very nice Bayerischer Hof hotel. Perhaps a touch on the pricey side for Brits paying in pounds but nevertheless very nice. I’ve already seen a few of the IP community around, Joff Wild looking very […]

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See you in Munich at the IPBC

June 19, 2010

Andrew, Rob, and I are all in Munich for the IP Business Congress this week. Look out for Andrew on a panel with his fellow IAM 20 members Richard Buttrick and Joe Beyers together with Johan Feenstra of Liquavista, and Carmen Vela of Ingenasa, and discussing SMEs and IP on Monday. Our friend Ben Lehman […]

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Amazon and Social Networking

June 18, 2010

Some of you may know the slashdot website, which is always good for a provocative discussion about patents and their value. Their latest entry identifies a newly granted US Patent 7,739,139 assigned to Amazon and which claims a social networking system. The entry is slightly wrong since it suggests that the application which was filed […]

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Nanofutures – the future of Nanotechnology IP?

June 16, 2010

It’s been a couple of interesting days in Oviedo, Spain, at the first Nanofutures conference launching the European Technology Integration and Innovation Platform (ETIP) in Nanotechnology. The ETIP is designed to be Europe’s forum for research and commercialisation of nanotech products and the conference was well attended by a number of European Commission officials and […]

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Quite a last week, with IPBC coming up

June 13, 2010

I was giving the third of the EVCA’s IP masterclass webinars last Monday and was able to cite Joff Wild’s reference to Fluxxion in the IAM blog just in time. Fluxxion,,  is one of those apparently rare European early stage entities where IP strategy and implementation is driven from the top. I don’t […]

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Indian Government to try to patent Yoga positions-the right approach?

June 8, 2010

As a large yoga fan (Bikram is my thing—can’t recommend it more highly, in fact thanks to Jordan for positioning our London office right next to a studio) this caught my eye in today’s Telegraph online. I agree with the sentiment expressed by the Indian government spokesman. Like France with real champagne (another of […]

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Ex-Kirkland patent litigation lawyer flips to NPE

June 4, 2010

The ABA Journal is reporting (via Bloomberg) that a former partner at law firm Kirkland and Ellis has purchased 4,500 patents and is starting an NPE (or troll, depending on your attitude towards these things). John Desmarais is a “Billion Dollar Lawyer” (according to Bloomberg) who practiced (what else?) patent litigation. So he’s flipped sides […]

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More really interesting IP news- F1 team Force India sues Lotus

June 2, 2010

Here is an interesting news item from Twitter today.$21378971.htm Intriguing. Isn’t it?  In a market where IP comes and goes fast, season by season, F1 is highly innovative but not to my knowledge a big patent filer. Which may be why Force India is using a more esoteric legal right to try to enforce […]

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