Tag: trolls

New Zealand bans trolls

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollPeter Jackson’s Weta studios might have a few problems after his home country, New Zealand decided to ban trolls.

The country passed the the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, in the hope of stemming “cyber-bullying”.

If you use digital communications to cause “serious emotional distress” to a person you open yourself to an escalating series of punishments.

Starting with negotiation, mediation or persuasion the law can create offences such as not complying with an order, and “causing harm by posting digital communication”.

The most serious offenders would face two years in jail or a maximum fine of NZ$33,900.

Gareth Hughes, one of the four Greens MPs to vote against the bill, said it was overly broad and risked limiting freedom of expression.

The opposition Labour party said that it was “wedged” by the NZ government: while some of the bill was “worthy of discussion” the law had “deeply worrying” elements.

The bill covers posts that are racist, sexist, or show religious intolerance, along with hassling people over disability or sexual orientation. There’s also a new offence of incitement to suicide which carries a three years’ jail sentence.

The regime will be enforced by a yet-to-be-established agency that will make contact with publishers and social media platforms, and if it can’t resolve a complaint, the agency will be able to escalate it to the district court.

A platform like Facebook or Twitter can opt into the safe harbour – but only if they agree to remove allegedly offending material either on-demand or within the bill’s 48-hour grace period.

It is also interesting because it is a law which potentially criminalises children over the age of 14.

Supremes steam windows in favour of patent troll

 supremesCopyright trolls in the US are celebrating after one of their number bought down the mighty briefs of Cisco.

The US Supreme Court ruled against Cisco over a patent infringement claim the tech giant is fighting against Commil.

The court threw out a ruling by the US  Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in favour of Cisco which is more than certainly going to lead to a new trial.

The case concerns a patent held by Commil for a patent to improve the implementation of a wireless network where multiple access points are needed. Commil sued Cisco for patent infringement and induced patent infringement based on the network equipment maker’s use of similar technology.

In April 2011, a jury awarded Commil almost $63.8 million in damages. A judge subsequently added $10.3 million in interest.

But in June 2013, the appeals court ordered a retrial, concluding in part that Cisco should be allowed to mount the “good faith” defence.

Washington-based intellectual property lawyer William Jackson said the ruling means “the patent owner must merely prove that the other party knew of the patent and intended to induce infringement – not that the party had any particular belief about validity.”

Seth Waxman, one of Cisco’s lawyers, said the ruling “simply eliminates one of many defences available to Cisco, which looks forward to retrial of the case.”

The US government had warned that companies accused of inducing patent infringement were likely to raise the “good faith” defence in most cases, if not all of them.

The Supremes agreed saying that if Cisco prevailed on its theory, there would be “negative consequences” in other cases.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion saying that the ruling would benefit so-called patent trolls, companies that hold patents only for the purpose of suing firms seeking to develop new products.

US Senate backs patent trolls

The corrupt US senate has decided that patent trolls have more money than ordinary people have and has dumped a law to legislate the crippling trade out of existence.

While patent trolls destroy industries like technology, the big players have huge investments in patents and are not in favour of reform. Lawyers make a killing out of the frivolous patent cases and the powerful drugs companies depend on them.

Therefore, a proposal to club patent trolls over the head is now on hold indefinitely after the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, a democrat shelved the idea.

The law had backing across the house but Leahy suddenly took it off the table after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – another democrat – intervened at the last minute.

The bill would have made it more difficult for patent holders to file frivolous lawsuits, adding new requirements that would force lawsuit losers to cover litigation costs for both sides and patent holders to state their accusations more explicitly.

According to the republicans, Reid was got at by the lobbyists who paid to have the law shelved.

This is the third time in three weeks the majority leader has blocked legislation with bipartisan support in the Senate, the laws backer Republican John Cornyn said.

“It’s disappointing the majority leader has allowed the demands of one special interest group to trump a bipartisan will in Congress and the overwhelming support of innovators and job creators.”

It looks like the lobby groups came from groups who make a killing from being patent trolls namely trial lawyers, universities, pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies.

The University of Vermont and a biotech coalition each sent letters to Leahy opposing the legislation.

“We believe the measures in the legislation … go far beyond what is necessary or desirable to combat abusive patent litigation, and would do serious damage to the patent system,” reads one of the letters. “Many of the provisions would have the effect of treating every patent holder as a patent troll.”

Leahy acknowledged there had been a sudden amount of pressure from the lobby groups in the hours before the deadline.

But Washington thinks it is more likely that passing the legislation out of committee would put greater pressure on Reid to bring it up for a floor vote, which would put the democratic leader at even more uncomfortable odds with the groups that wanted him to sink the bill.

In other words, the US will have to suffer from patent trolls because its senators are corporate lapdogs for those who want to use the system to cripple industry to make a quick buck.

Makes you really regret that revolution now doesn’t it?

Popular Science switches off trolls

Popular Science magazine has decided that it is not worth the effort to allow the great-unwashed to comment on any of its articles.

In a statement, the 141-year-old science and technology magazine said that it was not a decision it made lightly as it was committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate.

But the problem was that trolls and spambots had crushed any attempt at real discussion.

Not all commenters were shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla, the site said. But even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story.

It cites a study led by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Dominique Brossard, where 1,183 Americans read a fake blog post on nanotechnology and revealed in survey questions how they felt about the subject.

Then they read either praise or negative troll posts. The study found that the negative comments polarised readers and changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story.

An ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.

For this reason, the magazine thought it was better for science to kill off the comments completely.

Some of this has to do with politics. A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics, the magazine said.

As a result the public mistakenly thinks that everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is up for grabs again.

Scientific certainties are another thing for two people to “debate” on television, the magazine moaned.

The comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath the magazine’s stories, the site said. 

New Zealand bans software patents

The Kiwi government, which has been famous for rolling over for the US government and big business, has surprisingly decided to outlaw software patents.

According to ITWireafter five years the Kiwis have finally passed a new Patents Bill that will effectively outlaw software patents.

It was not easy and there was a lot of lobbying from multinational patent trolls who wanted to keep their business alive.

Commerce Minister Craig Foss welcomed the modernisation of the patents law, saying it marked a “significant step towards driving innovation in New Zealand”.

In a statement, Foss said that by clarifying what can be patented, New Zealand businesses more flexibility to adapt and improve existing inventions, while continuing to protect genuine innovations.

The Patents Bill was first drafted in 2008 and in 2010, the Commerce Select Committee recommended a total ban on software patents. However a government committee reversed that plan in August there was an outcry.

The theory was that the changes had been made to accommodate the US as New Zealand is involved in negotiations with Washington to sign a treaty known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Although the US has been anti-troll, it is also pro-copyright and this has led some trade negotiators to defend software patents with the same vigour as they so Hollywood blockbusters.

Yet the feeling is that patents do not work for software. It is almost impossible for technology companies to create new software without breaching some of the hundreds of thousands of software patents that exist, often for obvious work.

Still it does mean that there will be one class of troll which will not be able to audition for the next Peter Jackson flick. 

US government targets patent trolls

US patent trolls are huddling under their bridges in fear after the Federal Trade Commission announced it is launching an investigation into their antics.

According to the New York Times, the agency’s boss, Edith Ramirez, wants an open season on trolls.

She is particularly concerned in the breed of troll that engages in “a variety of aggressive litigation tactics,” including hiding behind shell companies when it sues.

Ramirez did not name names, but the Times thought her description sounded rather like Intellectual Ventures.

Co-founded by Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer at Microsoft, Intellectual Ventures has bought 70,000 patents and related assets in the last 13 years.

This year Intellectual Ventures filed 14 lawsuits and is expanding its battles against banks, which Intellectual Ventures says infringed on patents that cover data encryption techniques, firewall protection systems or digital imaging.

Robin Feldman, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law told the Times that while the trolls were flat out, there were new products coming out of this extraordinary level of activity.

He said that all they are doing is taxing current products and companies and most of the money changing hands is not flowing back to original inventors.

Now the White House is wondering if patent trolls violate antitrust law or fair competition regulations.

President Barak Obama ordered the Patent and Trademark Office and other agencies to heighten disclosure of who owns a patent and to take steps to eliminate unwarranted patent lawsuits.

Another thing which is worrying the FTC is privateering. This is when a company sells a patent to a troll company, which then uses it to sue the original owner’s competitors.

Ramirez said that this allows companies to exploit the lack of transparency in patent ownership to win a tactical advantage that could not be gained with a direct attack. 

Patent trolls snack on Kodak patents

Patent troll outfits which act on behalf of Apple and Google have bought some important patents from the collapsing photo giant Kodak.

A group including Apple, Google, and  Research In Motion has agreed to buy patents from Kodak for about $525 million and gain control over the right to use the digital technology to capture and share photos.

The group is led by Intellectual Ventures Management and RPX. It means that Google, Apple and RIM are among the 12 companies that will license the patents in the deal and Intellectual Vultures, er Ventures will split the payment with the licensees.

Kodak is happy. It needed to sell the patents for at least $500 million under a November agreement to obtain $830 million in financing to exit bankruptcy in the first half of 2013. Kodak keeps ownership of about 9,600 other patents for its ongoing businesses.

However it does give some of the most powerful IT companies in the world, including Facebook, Samsung, Adobe, Fujifilm, Amazon.com, Huawei, and Microsoft control over the patents. While this means that they will not be suing each other, it also means that any new companies trying to enter the market could be sued into a coma.

Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez told Bloomberg been selling businesses to shrink Kodak and fund its shift into commercial printing and packaging after seeking Chapter 11 protection in January. The company is also selling its consumer-film, photo- kiosk and commercial-scanner businesses and shuttering its consumer inkjet-printer unit. 

US Congress considers cutting ITC's power

The US government has finally worked out that the power of the International Trade Commission to stop trade shipments is causing too much trouble in trademark trolling disputes.

The International Trade Commission was created to protect US companies from unfair foreign competition but it is proving an attractive venue for the high-tech patent wars over smartphones, chips and Blu-Ray devices becauseit is the best way to ban imports that infringe patents.

According to Reuters, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, in a hearing on Wednesday, heard how the system was being used to squeese cash out of companies because a mere threat of a sales ban is a potent reason to settle.

District courts have to meet a higher standard to ban infringing products, other than the Republic of Texas, of course.

The hearing is the second to discuss the ITC in a week. The Senate Judiciary Committee was to discuss whether companies should ask for sales bans because they infringed patents seen as “essential” to a product.

Yesterday’s hearing focused more on patent trolls. It is starting to look like there is a consensus in Washington to tackle the trolls.

A California Republican Darrell Issa said that it was silly that the system allowed everyone to be sued twice. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat said that the industry was being shaken down through the ITC.

Ford Global Technologies and Cisco Systems told lawmakers that an ITC case, and the related threat of an import ban, cost companies millions to fight off.

Neal Rubin, vice president of litigation for Cisco, said that it doubles or triples its costs to fight in a district court and the ITC.

Bert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute testified that the only way to deal with the problem is to take up the issue of standard essential patents.

Different groups have varying rules governing the obligations of companies that hold patents essential to a standard. Most require broad licensing at reasonable rates and there has been talk of requiring holders to agree to give up the right to seek exclusion orders. 

Ebay sued for $3.8 billion

Once upon a time on the internet, lived an auction house which was known throughout the whole world.

Ebay, for that was its name, was famous for its gold which it kept locked up in the many rooms of its large house.

One day the King of the Trolls heard about Ebay and its large amount of money and thought “I’m having some of that”.

In ancient times the trolls would have invaded Ebay’s home, before the sun came up, steal its gold, smash the furniture and sell the auction house to the Goblin Slave markets just outside Slough.

Since this is a modern fairy story, the King of the Trolls, whose name was XPRT, for the Trolls have not invented vowels yet, contacted his lawyer.

The Lawyer bought in an immediate law suit  for allegedly infringing patents held by XPRT.  King XPRT had never invented anything in his life but he had got his troll like claws on some pieces of paper which he found in the ruins of some burnt out companies.

The trollish king sued eBay, PayPay, Bill Me Later, Shopping.com. and StubHub in the US District Court in Delaware. It claims that eBay violated six patents that let shoppers make purchases online using alternative forms of payment instead of their credit cards, among other processes.

If the Trollish King had invented paying on the internet without using a credit card he certainly never did anything with it. But he does appear to be keen to sue an outfit which did.

King XPRT’s lawyers say the patent holders are not seeking an injunction but want to be “fairly compensated” for their ideas.

 In otherwords it is not interested in stopping the ideas from being used., it just wants the bags of gold have to be delivered to the King by sun up.  It is the same result as before, only no one’s furniture gets smashed and the Goblins do not get fresh slaves.