I listen to the radio when I’m in Michigan. Thank goodness because I’ve got no cable here and my web connection is pokey. It’s sort of a self-imposed news blackout. Radio is my one solid connection, so, I had NPR in the background yesterday when I heard a show that had Everything to do with Innovation — This American Life. Ira Glass hosts this eclectic show, and as many times as I’ve heard it in the past, and enjoyed it, I’ve never really thought of him as even remotely concerned with business. So all the more amazing when his program was an Innovation business mind-blower. Listen to it: it has to do with “Patent Trolls” and their huge negative impact on innovation in the high tech sector.
Patent Trolls are companies that amass patents for the sole purpose of leveraging them in lawsuits. Patent Trolls don’t innovate, they suck cash out of companies that are trying to innovate. It’s legal — and it’s about as slimy a practice as you can imagine. Patent Trolls have no intention of creating products or services, no, they are in business to sue others and get huge settlements. You hear so much talk about regulation and nuisance lawsuits from the conservative side — and yet why is it Ira Glass, Mr. Liberal, who is bringing this huge abuse of the patent system to the public’s view? Thanks Ira, you surprise and educate.
Like mafia protection rackets these people push their advantage. Some firms even go so far as to essentially have the “it would be a shame to see your nice little software company go down in flames” conversation, and, offer protection — essentially for a payoff — to be left alone. This has to be one of the darkest stories about capitalism I’ve heard in a long time. And these trolls attack some of the most promising young companies in the technology sector. We really don’t need this anti-innovation!
Like the mafia, many powerful people don’t want to talk about this story for fear of being sued — that’s called intimidation, and it’s wrong.
My suggestion: share the link to Ira’s show on FaceBook, Twitter, and in newsletters. Here’s a tiny URL you can use: http://tinyurl.com/3au22dt . We need to raise consciousness about this and get these Patent Trolls off real innovator’s backs. Meanwhile I’ll do more research and find out if it’s as bad in Europe with this as it is in the Silicon Valley. I’ll also find out what might be done to put these non-innovator’s out of business. Please share, this is an important business trend that needs to see the light of day.