Inventors Protest California Congressman Darrell Issa

By Paul Morinville
November 4, 2016

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA).

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA).

In my 54 years, I’ve never protested anything.  I’ve complained to my friends and family and sometimes to a few unfortunate strangers.  So this has been the first time publicly protesting anything for me.  It’s also the first time for Adrian Pelkus, who has joined the US Inventor Board of Directors and most of inventors who joined us from the San Diego Inventors Forum.

It’s a weird feeling holding a sign, waving, smiling and chanting as cars drive by.  Many honked and waved back, gave us a thumbs up or yelled their support out the window.  I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who took the time to stop and ask us questions.  I think that many people are curious because our issue is unique.  It’s not abortion, or trade, or emails, or sex or ISIS, or Russia.  It’s much more interesting than all of that.  Our issue is patent protections for small inventors and startups – the stuff that drives new technologies and creates most of our new jobs.

We started a month ago in the district of Congressman Darrell Issa.  Initially, Issa’s campaign schedule was posted on his Facebook page so it was fairly easy to find places to politely hold our signs.

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Strangely, after our second event, Issa no longer published his schedule.  But maybe we should have expected that.  After all, he didn’t allow any inventor to testify in any hearings related to the Innovation Act or, for that matter, any other patent reform legislation.  I really don’t know the last time an inventor who puts food on her table with patented inventions testified in congress.  Issa hid his schedule so it is clear that he really doesn’t want the public to know what damage his legislation has done to our nation’s job creation engine.

What’s really unfortunate about Issa blocking inventor input, is that this legislation effects inventors and early stage startup more than any other group.  The effects of the America Invents Act has laid inventors and startups to waste as a result.  That’s no small issue economically speaking.  With the large majority of our new job creation as a result of inventors and startups, weakening the patent system will negatively affect every American.  Today a huge portion of the products we buy are made in China.  Soon they will be invented there too.

I’ve spent this year visiting inventor clubs educating inventors about how congress, the courts and the administration has damaged their patent rights and about the very real damage coming from the Innovation Act.  This has brought many opportunities to meet inventors and understand what bad patent reforms have actually done at the street level.

Weak patent rights have repositioned inventors from the creative genius behind new stuff to the unwitting market proving grounds for large multinational corporations who steal inventions once the inventor proves the invention is marketable.

Here are some examples.  I met several inventors who ran successful Kickstarter crowd funding campaigns.  Each generated hundreds of thousands of dollars from these campaigns and used that money to kick off or expand their companies.

One inventor’s Kickstarter campaign generated a licensing deal with a manufacturer that is currently commercializing it.  That is a big win for a little guy.  Within six months of his Kickstarter campaign, he was knocked off by a company that very likely was monitoring Kickstarter and saw his successful campaign.  He contacted the infringer and has been forced to defend his patent rights in court.  As is now the case in defending patent rights, he was pommeled with PTAB procedures.  Now he lives his life visiting lawyer’s offices and courtrooms trying to prove again that his patents are valid.  The PTAB death squads have cost him everything he made on his Kickstarter campaign, his licensing and much more.  He is actually losing money just because he invented something that people want to buy and others want to steal.

Another inventor is a third generation inventor who commercialized his dad’s invention building a small company with a few employees.  Then he ran a successful Kickstarter campaign only to get knocked off by a Chinese company that just copied his whole company, product, brand and all.  His product brings in just enough revenue to support a few employees and his family, but it is not a big enough market to justify spending the huge dollars necessary to defend patents in court.  Regardless, the Chinese knock off is severely damaging his company and threatening its very existence.  There is another I met with the same basic story, but worse – this inventor is getting complaints filed against his company including a potential lawsuit based on poor product quality even though the product was not sold by him.  It was knocked off without his permission by a Chinese company who stole his company’s entire identity, his marketing documents, his inventions, his brand and everything else.  The only thing that is different is the bank account and, of course, the quality of his product.

Unscrupulous companies both here and in China are watching Kickstarter and plucking the winners to knock them off.   The oddly named American Invents Act is largely responsible for this mess because patents can no longer be reasonably enforced.  The best products are now just stolen and knocked off, sometimes the entire company is knocked off.  Weak patents are worthless patents for small inventors and startups.

Darrell Issa was a cosponsor and a major political driver of this startup killing legislation, which is why inventors are going to his events to educate him and his potential voters.  Issa’s race is very close with some polls showing him down by several points.  His competitor believes in strong patents.  This draws a clear distinction between the candidates and inventors and startups in California’s 49th district want to be represented by someone who will preserve their rights, and their companies.

Last Saturday, we met up at Issa’s office in Vista, CA.  We brought our signs and protested for an hour in front of his office while we attached banners and balloons to our vehicles.  Then we took a nice slow drive across his district honking and generating as much attention as possible from the 60,000 or so people we drove by.

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This election is far too volatile to predict, but Issa needs a new job.  If he keeps his, we will all lose our jobs.

The Author

Paul Morinville

Paul Morinville is Founder and former President of US Inventor, Inc., which is an inventor organization working in Washington DC and around the US to advocate for strong patent protection for inventors and startups. US Inventor has been walking the halls of Congress knocking on doors and sitting down with hundreds of offices to explain the damage suffered by inventors due to patent reforms. Paul is President of SemiComm HK, a Hong Kong company licensing patents in China, and an independent inventor with dozens of U.S. patents and pending patents in enterprise middleware.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 38 Comments comments.

  1. EG November 4, 2016 7:55 am

    Hey Paul,

    The AIA is the Abominable Inane Act.

  2. Anon November 4, 2016 12:18 pm

    Thank you for your efforts, Paul.

  3. Dale Halling November 4, 2016 5:06 pm

    Thanks for all your work

  4. Dale B Halling November 4, 2016 5:06 pm

    Thanks for all your efforts

  5. Adam November 4, 2016 6:43 pm

    Way to go Paul!

  6. Independent Inventor November 4, 2016 8:19 pm

    Though mere words don’t do justice to all that you do, I’ll add mine to the both spoken and unspoken chorus — thank you.

  7. Nancy E. Kramer November 5, 2016 7:31 am

    Who is his opponent? Maybe its time to donate to them.

  8. sharkdog November 5, 2016 8:20 am

    What does AIA have to do with the second example’s inability to enforce his patents?

    The first example doesn’t like IPRs b/c too costly. Without AIA he would be in district court subject to invasive discovery and spending 10X as much.

    Find something else to protest.

  9. Chris Gallagher November 5, 2016 10:44 am

    Paul
    Great to find a place to publicly thank you for terrific work you do. I totally agree with Independent Inventor (above).Were you not engaged so actively in this worthy effort, inventors would have been compelled to invent YOU.

  10. John Willkie November 5, 2016 2:02 pm

    If a patent is merely “the right to exclude” then, complaining about “having to defend” once granted a patent is mere whining. Issa isn’t in my district but an adjacent one, but I wonder how his opponent feels about patents?

    Issa actually owns patents, no? The lack of inventor input into his (and other) hearings needs to be addressed in a different manner than simple-minded protests outside of his public events. Do you protest likewise at public events for all other committee members?

    And, complaining about his schedule not being posted on Facebook is odd: how do others know when & where to show up?

  11. Gene Quinn November 5, 2016 2:16 pm

    John Willkie-

    So your considered opinion is that these inventors shouldn’t be protesting Issa, who is the leader in the House behind the Innovation Act, unless they are also protesting the other Members of the Committee who follow Issa’s lead? Is that supposed to pass for thoughtful commentary, because I have to tell you that is just about the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard.

    The article also does not complain about his schedule not being posted to Facebook, but rather observes that once the protests started his schedule no longer was publicly posted to Facebook, which is fact. As for how people know where his scheduled campaign stops will be, have you ever heard of e-mail? That is commonly how campaigns manage to ensure that only friendly audiences are present. They simply don’t post their events and send invitations only to friendly audiences.

    And yes, Issa has patents and Issa sued on his patents. Most in the patent community consider Issa a patent troll and his patents extremely suspect and his patent claims almost certainly invalid under the standards of today. Interesting how Issa is vilifying patent owners for doing exactly what he did to become rich and powerful.

    -Gene

  12. Paul Morinville November 5, 2016 3:02 pm

    John Willkie, I’ve spoken for hours with his opponent, Doug Applegate. He views what has happened to the patent system as denial of justice – those least able to access the courts to begin with are now fully barred from the courthouse – which is a very accurate view of the patent world that Issa has created.

    The key to understanding patent reform has to do with the difference in how Issa and his large multinational cronies view patents versus how inventors and startups view patents.

    For the people inventing and attempting to commercialize new high risk technologies, a patent is almost always the only thing that they can collateralize to attract funding for their high risk venture. That means that inventors must have a real property right, which is the essence of the “exclusive Right” that solely constructs a patent in the Constitution.

    For Issa and his big multinational cronies, a patent as simply a tool for litigation. That tool brings public relations and marketing benefits, but it seldom is used as an “exclusive Right”, which is evident in that virtually all big corp to big corp suits end in cross licenses and settlements. The PR effect showing them as the innovator and the opponent as the copier is the larger benefit of a patent suit. The only time they actually intend to get injunctive relief is when they go after a smaller competitor who does not have enough patents or money to sue them back and force a cross license.

    Weak patent rights have forced startups to hide their inventions. It appears that is what your company is doing. The problem is that nobody can build upon what is hidden in a trade secret. Further, it is very difficult to collateralize a trade secret to fund a company especially if the technology is something that can be easily reverse engineered or copied.

  13. John Willkie November 5, 2016 3:19 pm

    Mr. Quinn;
    I have a great deal of respect for you, but I’m having trouble trying to figure out how you can twist what I’ve posted here into support for the Innovator’s Act or even Darrel Issa. If you re-read, you will find me complaining that their protests could have been more effective if they didn’t give up when the campaign stopped posting their schedule to Facebook.
    As a recovering investigative reporter, I also know a smurfing campaign when I see one. I read the local newspaper daily, and I watch my share of local news. There has been no indication of a local campaign (largely of unnamed inventors, we are told, using crudely hand-lettered signs [smurfing or incompetence] on IP issues. The campaign is being covered closely.
    Were I following the Alinsky principles that my friends followed in high school protests, I would have been on an Issa mailing list to get his prolific schedule. Using Facebook is letting the low-hanging fruit land on you. Were I writing or editing a piece on Issa’s activities wrt to IP, I would mention his apparent inconsistencies. I might even, were I being tendentious in an item, to use the Alinsky principle (rephrased) of “Requiring your opponent to live up to their own hypocrisies.”
    Issa’s district is in the Los Angeles and San Diego TV market. I can’t see LA TV, but this anti-Issa feint appears to be limited to a protest at one or two Issa events, with no interest in “earned media” like the LA Times, San Diego Union, Orange County Register, etc.
    Believe me, if this “campaign” was more than a posting in IP Watchdog; if somebody had called a single reporter at a single TV station or newspaper, they would have JUMPED on this, because the campaign is so intense, with large TV buys, etc.
    You, alas, have been ‘smurfed’ by a last-minute hit piece that confirms your (and, frankly, my) biases. Issa’s practice on patents versus his words could have been entered into this campaign.
    Now, what is Douglas Applegate’s position on intellectual property? Does he support the Innovator’s Act or oppose it? Since the ballot is Issa v. Applegate, is not that relevant? How come nobody has approached him?
    I’ve never bought any product made by Issa’s company, but isn’t he still the Chairman of the CTA (formerly known as the CEA)?

  14. John Willkie November 5, 2016 3:42 pm

    @Paul;
    I’m non-partisan, so when I read spin that Issa (R) and his “multi-national” cronies are this, and D. Applegate (D) is interested in the patent system as a “denial of justice” I wince; I know I’m being spun. The AIA and other recent crap passed on a bi-partisan basis. You are in Chicago; I’m in San Diego. I recognize that Douglas Applegate is unlikely to win; he can’t find much money locally, most of his money comes from the DCCC, and Applegate has done more fund-raising outside of the district than inside, perhaps even in Chicago. That Congressional District is two removed from mine.
    When I look at Mr. Applegate’s web site, I see the normal list of D shibboleths, but no mention of Intellectual Property. I suspect that his domestic violence problem (having to give up his guns for a while a decade ago), his “peeping tom” issue with his ex-wife and mis-match for the political zeitgeist in that district will be more determiniative of the outcome than IP.
    As a general rule, I find Ds to be more interested in attacking IP rights than do Rs. One doesn’t have to search far to find Issa attacking “patent trolls.” I tend to not use that term, and of course, in this thread we’ve seen him attacked as being one.
    As was explained to me in my Intellectual Property course (I studied to be a paralegal), a patent is an “exclusive right to exclude” under the law and grants one the right to sue under the patent, not merely under the holder’s name. Of course large firms believe their patents are solid and all others should be infringed with impunity. When you believe that a patent has been infringed, just as when you believe your neighbor has built a wall on your property, you either ignore it, work out a solution between yourselves, or go to court.
    “Denial of justice” is a meme; a false one. Does Mr. Applegate believe that public defenders should be assigned to patent holder plaintiffs?

  15. Gene Quinn November 5, 2016 4:22 pm

    John Willkie-

    I didn’t twist anything you wrote into suggesting you supported the Innovation Act or Darrell Issa, and you most certainly did not suggest anything constructive about how the protests could have been more effective. Your comment was insulting, demeaning and particularly condescending. I took issue with the way you characterized the way these inventors were exercising their right to be heard. You characterized their protests as: “simple-minded protests outside of his public events.” Did you really think you were giving constructive criticism by telling these inventors they were engaging in simple-minded protests?

    Immediately on the heals of calling these protests “simple-minded” you asked: “Do you protest likewise at public events for all other committee members?” The implication seems abundantly clear. In your opinion these protests are a simple-minded waste of time that are just harassing Darrell Issa and not the other members of the committee.

    You also erroneously said the author was complaining about Issa not posting his public schedule, which is not true. The author point out a fact.

    Your comment is clearly a defense of Congressman Issa, and your subsequent comment about how you think I shouldn’t have published this piece is further proof that you support Congressman Issa and would prefer to have this inventor perspective suppressed.

    As far as getting taken and inappropriate publishing this news worthy story, I have written extensively about Congressman Issa’s anti-patent agenda. The author, who you don’t seem to know anything about has been publicly campaigning on behalf of innovators for years. He has visited over 400 offices on the Hill, Congressman Issa knows him by name, he has traveled around the country to speak with Congressmen and Senators (and their constituents) at town hall meetings (which has been written about on IPWatchdog.com) and he writes op-ed articles periodically, sometimes by invitation and sometimes just by submitting them to us. The fact that you think a relevant new story shouldn’t be published prior to an election speaks VOLUMES about your integrity and where YOUR bias is. This is a storyline that we cover over and over again and if we aren’t going to cover this protest because it is too close to an election then I should just pull the plug on our server.

    You are obviously biased, you obviously support Darrell Issa, and you are obviously rather ignorant when it comes to the Constitution. These inventors have every right to protest in a peaceful way. That you don’t like that is YOUR problem.

    -Gene

  16. Paul Morinville November 5, 2016 4:38 pm

    John Willkie, You are obviously a Republican and obviously an Issa supporter. I am also a Republican and have been my whole life. The issue of patent reform is bi-partisan. It is driven by ignorance on the part of the public and by very large money flowing into Washington. Members of both parties are to blame for it and members of both parties are against it. The effort is being led by Google, Facebook, Amazon and the members of the CTA. All of whom benefit from weak patent protection.
    Justice is denied when the costs of court exceed one’s ability to pay. This has been the case for decades in patent litigation, however until recently there has been contingency law firms and investors who have provided the necessary capital for inventors and startups. It is an expensive route, but it did work. That has all changed. Not only is it more expensive, the risk of invalidating has skyrocketed and years have been added to the time to get to a decision. It no longer makes sense to help inventors.
    That change is a direct result of the America Invents Act bullied through congress by Issa and others on both sides of the aisle. Now a patent, formerly a property right, which used to require an Article III court to invalidate, can be returned to the USPTO and is immediately invalidated until the inventor can reprove it. The odds of the inventor being successful are negligible at best with somewhere around 95% of patents either invalidated completely or fully neutered. This evaluation is done by the Obama Administration and the USPTO is headed by none other than the former head of patent strategy at Google, who is just continuing to do her former job as the PTO Director.
    Issa’s legislation took Obama’s power of issuing patents and expanded it to include the power to invalidate patents. He now has the kingly power to determine whether or not a patent is valid or invalid. We will get a different president soon and the strength of patents will get stronger or weaker depending on who is elected. Imagine if this were the case with the deed to your house. Would a bank loan money to you to buy a house if the next president could effectively invalidate the deed for whatever reason?
    There are virtually no contingent fee attorneys nor are there investors willing to risk their own money to help an inventor defend patent rights. This is denial of justice and a direct result of Issa.
    You are not being spun. This is the truth. You elude to me being in Chicago. I am. But the inventors who came with me are from Issa’s district and nearby. US Inventor has 10,000 members from all across the country. They include many Californians who can no longer leverage their patents. They risk millions of dollars in costs even if they never assert their patent rights just because they invented something. The more valuable the patent the higher the risk. Issa’s legislation has been the death of inventors. That is not spin.
    You wonder about the multinational cronies. You can read this article about how a $1000/plate breakfast bought the vote of conservatives on the Judiciary Committee – Issa’s committee – and that is what passed the Innovation Act through committee. http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2015/09/08/how-a-washington-breakfast-influenced-conservative-votes-on-patent-reform/id=61471/
    It sounds like you may not understand how the AIA really works. You can read these articles to understand more about Issa’s America Invents Act.
    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/03/26/patent-laws-harming-children-americas-innovative-future/id=67465/
    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/06/26/cuozzo-ipr-death-american-inventor/id=70382/
    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/09/10/america-invents-act-harmed-inventors/id=72551/
    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/09/13/how-the-patent-trial-and-appeal-board-harms-inventors/id=72554/

  17. John Willkie November 5, 2016 5:12 pm

    “The entire world is made up of nails, if you are a hammer.” I guess I have become — in your mind, probably not elsewhere — a supporter of Darrell Issa because I question the effectiveness of what appears to have been a one-off protest that was possibly outside of one of his events? I have to amend that; based on the photographs, the top two appear to have been taken in or near San Clemente, CA and the third could have been taken there or somewhere else.
    To the extent that protest was effective, it was only effective here, if that. This is the essence of “smurfing” and “astro-turfing.” Run “inventors protest issa” through your favorite search engine and the results show this posting leading the list and, among other self-referential “inventor” web sites, you see Paul Morinville on LinkedIn.com and a craigslist posting from October 8. Simple-minded because by hooking up with somebody who paid $10, I suspect that Darrell Issa’s schedule of events would be sent to the group.
    I’m actually pro-protest; as close to an absolutist on the first amendment as one can be. I’m also very much pro-property rights, and very much in favor of IP rights. I like to see people protesting more effectively. In my youth, I was involved in several VERY effective protests; the where someone threw blood on the front door of the 11th Naval District HQ was an ineffective, simple-minded one.
    if I had known of some of D. Issa’s positions months ago — and I read this blog every morning and comment form time to time — I could have even have been insipired to ask the guy a few pointed questions at his public events.
    I drew a reasonable inference based on Issa withdrawing his schedule from Facebook. That such a simple change can block protest makes Issa’s campaign for eliminating the rights (apparently only) of small inventors the stuff of genius. Saul Alinsky (I actually read “Rules for Radicals” in high school) would not have been deterred. Highlighting that the fact stopped the protests shows the depth of the anti-Issa protest and certainly doesn’t make it a more than simple-minded protest. I was made to feel sorry for the protesters. That meets the definition of whining.
    I’ve actually accepted Paul Morinville’s invitation to connect on LinkedIn.com. I suspect that he has spent some time scouring my 600+ connections for sign of my connections to known anti-patent entities. I think one of my contacts works at Google, and one is ex-Google.
    My wish would be that IP rights can be made as important to the average gal and guy. Talking to ourselves won’t do that, nor do hand-lettered signs outside of political events. Note that the anti-Trump folks are effective in getting out their spleen and message when they are inside Trump events.
    I’m familiar with reduction ad absurdum, Mr. Quinn. You have tried to use that feint at least three times on me in this thread. “The fact that you think a relevant new[s] story shouldn’t be published prior to an election” is one. I never said that this shouldn’t have been published, or published close to the election. So, no “fact”, and “would have been more relevant earlier” and no “shouldn’t have been published.”
    Another is my ‘bias.’ My bias is towards effective communication and enforcement/defense of IP rights. And “integrity.” What is a fact is that on November 5, you thought it “newsworthy” to cover a protest that occurred on October 7 or so.
    More reductio ad absurdum. He’s a Republican; I’m an independent. I’ve always thought his firm’s advertising to be over-hyped fear mongering. (The unitended consequence of car alarms is car-jacking, which is more dangerous.) I’ve never even considered one of his products, and have smirked when an employee of mine told me he had paid for one. I’ve never voted for (or against) the man, I don’t live in his district (but one of my brothers does). I’ve never encouraged anyone to vote for him, nor contributed to one of his campaigns, and I consider him to be close to ineffective in general.
    Your worst reductio ad absurdum is “You are obviously biased, you obviously support Darrell Issa, you are obviously rather ignorant when it comes to the Constitution. These inventors have every right to protest in a peaceful way. That you don’t like that is YOUR problem.”
    I just love splendorous ad hominem factless/incorrect arguments. I try to avoid responding in kind, because I know when people are doing this, they are showing that they don’t believe the merit of their other arguments.
    Were we in a public place, I would respond to such behaviors by talking slower and lowering my voice and attacking your notions and not you. There would be no doubt among other people as to who was winning the argument.
    I know the Constitution fairly well for a layman; I read it every year on July 4. If I have any questions, I Shepardize it.
    I’m having so much fun here that I’m almost tempted to refer this thread to the attorney I’ve hired to prosecute what I hope will be a few patents. Except, he would charge me for reading your spleen. Like too many patent prosecutions, it wouldn’t end up being cost-effective or cost-efficient.
    But, if nothing else, were I ever to try to talk with Darrell Issa, I suspect that his staff would at least have heard of me.

  18. Paul Morinville November 5, 2016 6:13 pm

    John Willike, You said… “But, if nothing else, were I ever to try to talk with Darrell Issa, I suspect that his staff would at least have heard of me.”

    From my experience, that would not happen. He introduced a panel discussion in February of 2015 at a conference in Washington DC, which happened to be the day he reintroduced the Innovation Act in the judiciary. I was in the audience. Issa pointed his finger at the audience and told us that the Innovation Act was going to pass. It had passed 325-91 in the previous congress and he was going to make sure it passed again. He then added that if you wanted to change anything, don’t even show up to his office. He is a real bully.

    Moreover, he will not listen.

    I met him accidentally in an elevator in the Rayburn House Office Building. I introduced myself to him and when he heard my name he interrupted his handshake and scowled at me. I told him I was on my way to his office to set a meeting and he responded “I’m sure they are expecting you.” Then he walked out of the elevator, pointed his finger in my face and told me “HR9 is going to pass. It passed 325-91 last year and it will pass again.” then he stomped off. He deliberately attempted to intimidate me.

    Later he contacted all of the lobbyists on our side and told them that if they work with me they will never get into his office again. Then he demanded that they find out who was funding me so he could intimidate them and stop my funding. (I funded myself so this turned out to be a futile effort).

    Issa does not want to listen to anyone opposed to the his patent reforms. That is just a fact. You would not get anywhere talking to him.

  19. Dale B Halling November 5, 2016 7:24 pm

    A patent is a property right. The government recognizes property rights and the ability to attack patent validity has turned a property right into a mirage.

  20. Gene Quinn November 5, 2016 8:52 pm

    John Willkie-

    You said: “Were we in a public place, I would respond to such behaviors by talking slower and lowering my voice and attacking your notions and not you.”

    Hardly surprising given your condescending first comment toward the efforts of the inventors. People like you are arrogant in your superiority without any reason whatsoever.

    You said: “But, if nothing else, were I ever to try to talk with Darrell Issa, I suspect that his staff would at least have heard of me.”

    If you were to try to talk to Darrell Issa about patents it would have to be because you believe the infringer lobby line about innovators being a problem. Issa is on record as saying that he is willing to talk to anyone as long as they understand that it won’t matter and he will not change his mind. So Issa is not the reasonable person that you seem to think he is.

    As far as your asinine comments about “reduction ad absurdum,” people like you are going to believe whatever uninformed, misguided think you are going to believe. You said I was “smurfed by a last minute hit piece.” The only one who is posing and playing games here is you. Your comment clearly and unambiguously chastised me for publishing an hit piece. I defended publishing the piece as a news worth story, which you then seem to think is an absurd interpretation of your comment. It is, of course, the only reasonable interpretation of your comment.

    No matter. I’ve grown tired of your condescending comments. Your type of arrogant commentary passes for thoughtful on many Internet platforms, but not here.

    -Gene

  21. Bemused November 6, 2016 8:21 am

    Paul: Bravo, kudos and standing ovation for all that you’ve done (and continue to do) for inventors and patent holders.

    John Willkie: You noted that you’re a recovering investigative reporter. Clearly, you like to write (or at least you like to see your writing on the Internet) and to argue. Why don’t you use some of those traits and help the cause out by doing some investigating and by writing some brilliant articles about the destruction of the United States patent system? I can’t speak for Gene Quinn but given that man’s willingness to publish informative and relevant articles on IPWatchdog (even from some of the anti-patent folks), I suspect you’ll find a ready forum for your writings.

    If you’re being honest about soon becoming an inventor with patents, you’re going to find out very quickly how devalued patents have become as a result of the actions of Issa, et al if you ever attempt to protect your intellectual property. Writing some brilliant articles on this issue will, at a minimum, help yourself.

    One last comment about your postings on here and Paul Morinville. Its easy to criticize and disparage the protests by Paul and some of his colleagues. Yet, Paul got up off his a** and actually did something (regardless of whether you think his actions were effective or merely a hit piece). And, as Gene noted, Paul has been the relentless, driving force behind educating our representative and senators (at least, those that are open to being educated) about the dangers of “patent reform”. Aside from your commentary about Paul’s article, what exactly have you done with regards to helping protect American innovation?

  22. jbavis November 7, 2016 4:35 pm

    PaulMorinville@14:

    > “however until recently there has been contingency law firms and investors who have provided the necessary capital for inventors and startups. It is an expensive route, but it did work. That has all changed. Not only is it more expensive, the risk of invalidating has skyrocketed and years have been added to the time to get to a decision. It no longer makes sense to help inventors.”

    I hear this meme often on here which overlooks the fact that patents are now the sport of kings and so the inventor needs to adapt and take his patent(s) to the competitor of EvilBigCorp. If Google infringes, take your patent(s) to Apple or Microsoft or Oracle or whoever appropriate competitor. The enemy of your enemy is your friend.

  23. Curious November 7, 2016 9:37 pm

    if you’re being honest about soon becoming an inventor with patents, you’re going to find out very quickly how devalued patents have become as a result of the actions of Issa, et al if you ever attempt to protect your intellectual property.
    That is unfortunate but very accurate.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, for small time inventors, the cost-benefit analysis just doesn’t favor obtaining patent protection. Also, the more valuable the invention, the more likely the invention will be infringed upon and the greater the effort the infringers will make to invalidate the patent. In short, the better the invention, the more money you will end up losing once it reaches the AIA-sanctioned patent killing fields of the PTAB.

    If all you want is a vanity patent (i.e., something that you can wave around to impress the uninformed with no hope of every being enforced), then go for it. Otherwise, the patent system is set up (thanks SCOTUS and AIA) to help just the big guys.

  24. Jeff Lindsay November 7, 2016 10:39 pm

    Thank you standing up for inventor rights. May the injustice of the current law be repaired.

  25. Gene Quinn November 8, 2016 5:02 pm

    What does the AIA have to do with the inability to enforce patents? Wow! A rather ignorant comment really. I’m sure you are well aware of the PTAB. I’m also sure you are well aware of litigation realities in general, but you must be completely unfamiliar with litigation realities for inventors and small businesses and startups. The ability to obtain contingency representation has virtually dried up, as has the ability to obtain litigation financing. Those that would partner with inventors and small businesses, such as Acacia, have been hard hit. Many have left the marketplace.

    Perhaps you should get a clue rather than make egregiously ridiculous statements? I think that would be better than telling inventors what to spend their time protesting.

  26. Paul Morinville November 8, 2016 5:28 pm

    jbavis @22: There is much to learn about a weak patent system. First, if Google is infringing some small inventor’s patent, odds are the rest are either infringing now or will soon. There is almost no way for a small inventor or startup defend a patent due to the AIA. If they steal it, they keep it. They all know this, hell, they wrote the law. I don’t even think they consider it infringement anymore. I think they look it as small inventors prove the market for new technologies and they get to commercialize the new technologies without paying the inventor or buying the startup. I believe they think it is all just free.

    So, the effort of picking up the phone and attempting to license it to Apple and others if Google infringes is really just wasted.

  27. Paul Morinville November 8, 2016 5:41 pm

    Sharkdog @8: You say: “The first example doesn’t like IPRs b/c too costly. Without AIA he would be in district court subject to invasive discovery and spending 10X as much.”

    You are confusing the the cost reduction. It is not a reduced cost for the inventor. While an AIA created PTAB radically reduces the cost to defend against a charge of infringement, it conversely radically increases the cost to the inventor. And it burns about 5 years of the patent’s life and that time does not get added to the back end. Most patents are significantly less that 17 years (many of mine only get 10 years of less of active life), so burning 5 years can trash the value of the patent. Also the patent is invalidated as soon as the PTAB engages and it stays invalid until the inventor reproves the patent valid.

    The cost to an infringer of requesting a PTAB is about $20K plus whatever it takes to write the request. The cost to the inventor is often over a million dollars. This is not the cost of court. That will come if the patent is one of the 5% or so that survives the PTAB. Then the district court costs that you refer to start and that could be millions more.

    If you are going to help me financially, you’ll need to have a million dollars that you can put at risk just to see if I have a real and valid patent. Then you’ll need several million more five years later if it survives, and it probably won’t.

    If you are willing to invest, please contact me.

  28. jbavis November 8, 2016 7:26 pm

    Paul Morinville @ 26:

    Sorry that’s not what I meant. What I am suggesting is if you are small inventor and find bigCorpX infringing, don’t fight bigCorpX yourself but rather seek out bigCorpY who happens to be a competitor in the field to bigCorpX and then work out a deal with Y such as for example sell them your patent(s), or obtain funding to fight them. The latter (get funding) in particular might be effective – who do you think a jury is going to side with? I view it as the small inventor provides extra arrows to big corp to fight.

    It’s not game over for small inventors, they just have to adapt. The times they are a changin’.

  29. Paul Morinville November 8, 2016 7:42 pm

    jbavis @28. Same answer. why would they? there is no incentive to purchase a patent. If they are infringing and they believe they can be held accountable, they might. But corp to corp suits almost always settle with cross licenses. The first corp sue a second corp. the second corp risks losing the market due to an injunction, so the second digs into their own patent portfolio and cross sues for infringement. Now both corps are looking at injunctive relief. Rather than go nuclear with both corps losing the market, they cross license and end litigation.

    The only incentive to purchase a patent is to enforce it against companies who don’t have a patent portfolio. These are typically new to an industry like a startup or a larger company moving into a new market. The incumbents all have patents.

    So the incentive to purchase is for the the big dog to purchase the patents and sue small companies, or to avoid infringement, but that is no longer an issue due to the AIA.

    The best alternative for an inventor is to abandon the patents and stop paying maintenance fees.

  30. angry dude November 9, 2016 11:32 am

    jbavis @28

    Sorry, dude, but you have no clue

    I did precisely that and much more (4 years ago, before AIA, in much better environment for patent owners):
    Just one of the things I did:
    wrote to corp G offering to sue A if G takes patent license (or buys) on the terms of their choosing (some small change to feed my family and continue R&D)
    This was shortly after I already sued A’s supplier and at the time when A was suing pants off G’s wholly-owned subsidiary.

    End result: A dropped its supplier almost immediately and in-housed the tech in question (they had other reasons too, but this was the last straw…) , G’s sub and A eventually settled on some not fully disclosed terms, and I got zero, zilch, nada – not even a “thanks but no thanks” response from any of them…

    Welcome to Silicon Valley’s “ecosystem”

    To hell with such “patent system”

  31. angry dude November 9, 2016 11:46 am

    Paul Morinville @29

    Paul, the ugly truth is that while those big SV tech companies sue each other for patent infringement all the time, they at the same time conspire against newcomers – outside inventors or startups trying to enter the market.

    it’s called “cartel”

  32. jbavis November 25, 2016 2:44 pm

    Paul Morinville@29 and angry dude@30:

    Perhaps holds for large settlements but at some low threshold it simply does not make sense for the large corporation to fight. That dollar amount would vary, but I think it’s safe to say if an inventor is asking for say $100k-250k then many large corporations base their decision largely on whether they want or are already implementing the invention – and if so then to cut a cheque and move on.

  33. Paul Morinville November 25, 2016 3:10 pm

    jbavis @32 That was true before the PTAB. Generally, settlements below 300K are mistakenly considered patent troll settlements and PTAB’s were created to lower the cost threshold fro defending patent infringement suits to kill the imaginary patent trolls. To kill trolls, PTAB’s shift the cost from the wealthy infringer to the inventor, who can least afford it.

    For the infringer, the cost is ~$20K plus a few legal dollars to file the petition. This is a much lower cost than settling with the inventor so it is cost effective to push just about any patent infringement suit into the PTAB. At that point costs are shifted almost completely to the inventor who could easily be crushed with millions of dollars of costs defending a patent’s validity again in the same office that granted it. If the patent suit would only bring a few hundred thousand in damages, is is not a good bet to even enforce the patent. In addition to the cost, the likelihood of invalidation is extremely high so the patent would probably be made completely worthless if it is enforced.

    The incentives for inventors are set to make it a better decision to walk away and forget the patent system. Which is evident in the strengthening of trade secrets this year. We are giving our technology engine to the Chinese. It is really that simple and that unfortunate.

  34. SoftwareForTheWin December 4, 2016 4:26 pm

    Paul Morinville – you prove my point. Software patents are not only not worth it but worse is they only cost the small software innovator.

    Luckily, small software innovators have proven that they have other options than waste their time&money on patents. Instead of spending $50k on 2 patents, better off to allocate that on 6-12 months of an engineers time for coding and getting further ahead of the coming competitors. Then keep investing in that way – sure it’s no guarantee but it sure as heck beats pay USPTO filing and maintenance fees and patent attorneys all to get a patent that ends up being a liability (ie. paying legal fees to keep it valid after a PTAB challenge).

    That’s right – patents aren’t worth $0 – they end up being a liability in that the small software innovator has to pay to keep it valid!

    How can anyone argue or promote software patents? Who would be stupid enough to fall for this? Stupid is actually an understatement – you pay to create a future liability!

    Please software startups – continue to not file patents – there is no hope.

  35. Paul Morinville December 4, 2016 5:57 pm

    SoftwareForTheWin, @34. You say “Please software startups – continue to not file patents…” like you are the lobbyist for Google. Google doesn’t want people to file software patents. Not does Facebook or just about any other consumer internet company. Google would not exist but for the patent system that existed back when they kicked off their company. That patent system is gone as a result of Google’s political activities.

    Consider Google, who is the leading political and monetary force killing patents. Their claim to fame is a search algorithm. They filed for patent protection on that algorithm even before they bought http://www.google.com. This patent helped them attract capital and people necessary to build Google.

    Now consider what Google does. They primarily provide a method of searching websites for content. If some inventor out in the hinterlands invents a better search algorithm, patent it, and throws up a website, they could erode a significant portion of Googles search business. However, if that patent doesn’t get through the PTO or if it is impossible to enforce, Google can simply reverse engineer the algorithm, embed it into their search engine and, using their massive market power and deep pockets, send the inventor into the dustbin of history.

    What weak patents do is keep the incumbents in place and keep uppity little inventors in their place, which is why Google is paying millions of dollars buying politicians to write laws that kill inventors.

    Consider Oracle. Oracle has their software systems already established in the IT infrastructure of a very large number of companies, perhaps the majority. If some inventor comes up with a way to radically improve these systems and patents it, they can displace Oracle. However, if the patent can’t be enforced, Oracle can reverse engineer it, build it into their existing systems and massively upgrade their customer base thus taking away the market opportunity from the uppity inventor.

    Any software company that does not file for patent protection, regardless of the field of invention, is foolish. Big multinational software giants will steal it and will massively commercialize it is the invention is worth anything at all. Even though patents cannot be enforced today, the swamp is being drained and patent strength will improve this year. It will be turned back and we will repeal the AIA.

  36. SoftwareForTheWin December 4, 2016 6:54 pm

    Paul, you can’t have it both ways – either patents are currently strong and *CAN* help small innovators or they *CANNOT*.

    On the one hand you say that small entities can’t enforce patents because of things like the costs to file PTAB to invalidate a patent are a measely $20k – and then on the other hand you say “Any software company that does not file for patent protection, regardless of the field of invention, is foolish.”. Which is it – in the current patent system, do patents provide small entities with advantages or not?

    You suggest the swamp is being drained – but what is this based on other than hope? Do you expect small software entities to bet their future on hope when so many previous indications (eBay was pre-Obama, siphoning of USPTO filing fees to Congress and resulting in lower patent quality was pre-Obama, AIA and PTAB was Obama-era, foistering of Michelle Lee as USPTO Dir as Obama, etc) paint nothing but bleakness for the future of the U.S. patent system? The Washington swamp and corrupt American media and lobbyists may get drained but who said anything about the patent swamp? How will Trump drain the large anti-patent corporations who fund the continual anti-patent narrative? Google alone has $80B of cash that could be deployed against anyone threatening their profits. Add in a Cisco and can *ALL* of Pharma combined together even compete? No seriously, there is a lot more big money on the anti-patent side.

    Given today’s patent system, how does a small software innovator not see better odds in not bothering with patents?

    You won’t believe me, but I am not pro-Google. I agree with you – Google benefited from software patents by preventing Gates/Microsoft from squashing Google when they were a small operation in the late-90’s. The late-90’s, patents still meant something. However, it is not the 1990’s anymore, we live in the year 2016 and the U.S. patent system offers no protections to small entities (NOTE: this contrary to large entities where they actually provide a benefit). To be clear, by “no protection” I mean nothing, zilch, nada, zero, nil. In fact it’s worse than nothing – patents to small innovators are really nothing but a liability – after the patent issues and any thought of using the patent end up costing additional $money in having to defend against things like PTAB or the endless avenues large infringers can employ. Patents to small entities are actually a liability. Instead of entering them as an Asset in a balance sheet, they should be entered as a Liability.

    Small entities – especially software – gain nothing from today’s patent system. If there is any glimmer of hope, is that small software innovators have other options than paying USPTO $fees or patent firms.

    If the U.S. patent system turns around – and provides something to small entities to help them innovate or incentives to innovate – then I will take it all back because a strong patent system does make a better and more prosperous America. At a minimum, I cheer for any additional option for small software innovators – however, I believe that is nothing more than hope.

  37. SoftwareForTheWin December 4, 2016 7:01 pm

    Can anyone here show how in 2016 a patent to a small innovator is at best worth $0 and at worst nothing but a future liability?

    ?

  38. Paul Morinville December 4, 2016 7:09 pm

    SoftwareForTheWin, I didn’t think you were on Google’s side. I thought you were commenting as you are on the facts of the patent system. The difference is I know we can turn it back. And I know we can turn it back this year.

    I live in a blue collar union town. Explain what’s going on to any union guy and he gets pissed. I spent six months in my once home state of Iowa last year going to town halls and talking about patent reform. Small town Americans get pissed. I’ve been to dozens of inventor clubs, they get pissed.

    I completely believe that we can and will turn this around next year. Google and their ilk can’t steal my property and my country. They can’t have the American Dream. And I believe that it is becoming clear what happened. I believe it is already turning around. Call me what you will, but I will fight them until I win or die which ever comes first.