KILL THE TROLLING
My Lawyer (unnamed for legal reasons and I were having lunch a couple days ago. She just got finished with a big case that settled before her amazing work could be put to use. She’s in patent law. So, naturally, patent trolling came up. She told me how it works.
A patent troll will come up with an idea, hire a law firm to write the patent in as vague a wording as possible to cover the broadest application of that idea. Then, the troll will hire a second firm to sue anyone using anything that might possibly fall under the patent’s terms.
The patent and copyright systems in the United States exist to enable innovation, by allowing the innovator a brief period of profit on his idea before the public can make use of it. This does two things: 1) The innovator can keep himself feed and warm; 2) Society improves from the innovation.
Patent trolls stop this system from working by preventing #2, instead, making people afraid to innovate because they don’t want to get sued.
This idea was thought up over one lunch and I haven’t put much more thought into it since then, so it’s got some bugs, but here it is. Pick a field currently suffering from excessive trolling (IT or the auto industries come to mind) and start writing some really vague patents. Keep writing them until pretty much the entire industry is covered. Then, release them under Creative Commons. Sue anyone who looks like they’re participating in patent trolling. Everyone gets to use the patents.
The main problem with this is that it costs A LOT to do and there really isn’t much money in it. However, what it lacks in money, it makes up for in PR.