Tech at Night: Dodd-Frank kills innovation, Cybersecurity marches on, Lodsys patent trolling

Tech at Night

Good evening. Care for your latest dose of regulation crushes innovation and competition? If you’re unhappy about the lack of innovation in America for mobile payments like they have in Japan, blame the Dodd-Frank bill. It prevented the wireless industry from getting together and making it happen. But we sure stuck it to the bankers, eh? Our faces are sure spited from cutting off our noses like that.

Of course, that doesn’t stop the Democrats from continuing to try to take power. If it’s not the PROTECT IP bill to institute national censorship of the Internet, it’s the continuing push to insert government with “cybersecurity” as the wedge. Never let a crisis go to waste. This time it’s the Playstation Network, but anything will do. This is the party that brought you the Clipper Chip designed to let the government spy on any encrypted data in America. When they say cybersecurity they mean their security, not yours or mine.

Slow Monday, so I’ll close with a story of a patent. I’ve been saying in this space that the only reason to keep patents around is to help the small inventor be protected from large companies or even entire cross-licensed industries. If it can’t do that, then it’s failing and will only stifle innovation rather than encourage it. The story of Lodsys demonstrates that we still have work to do.

Lodsys, you see, doesn’t make things. It doesn’t sell products. It doesn’t produce value. It is a firm designed solely to sue people over patents and shake down actual producers for money. Companies like these are reasonable when they invent things, but Lodsys doesn’t actually invent things. It holds patents for obvious things that the entire industry does. That is, Lodsys is a patent troll.

Normally Patent Trolls go after deep pockets hoping for a settlement. Not Lodsys, though. Lodsys is going after everybody, including small time software developers. One man operations who certainly cannot afford to defend themselves from dedicated teams of lawyers trained to harass society’s productive people. These people, if pushed hard enough, won’t have the luxury of Going Galt. They’ll just go out of business. They won’t have a choice. This they will do even if they’re not actually infringing on the patent in question, because the little guy cannot afford to fight back.

As a result, people are angry. Is there a chance this will be the case that finally changes the laws? Maybe. Probably not. But I hope so.

PS If anyone tried a comment at RedState as condescending and trollish as that comment on the Lodsys website, I’d be looking for any excuse to ban. There’s not a shred of good faith in anything Lodsys does. The system is broken, and Lodsys has a business model of explotation of that broken system. Software patents aren’t the problem: a system that allows ideas, not inventions, to be patented is the problem. A system that allows obvious ideas to be patented is the problem. A system that prices out the little guy from defending himself, either as the patent holder or as the alleged infringer, is the problem.

I support patents, but I demand patent reform.

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