This looks similar to the stock trading where the trader has no interest in what the companies are doing . The trader is only interested in making money out of speculation. So the traders create hype about a stock to raise its market price and then sale it to garner the profit.
If stock trading is ethical then why not the Patent trading ?
I think Brian's point was that if a potential acquirer went on to delibrately sue small non-infringing companies that could not afford to defend themselves that would be morally wrong.
And doubt that any respectable person would want to get involved with such a scheme.
Other cases are questionable but not clearly morally wrong.
Basing judgments on intentions is always difficult. When you are dealing with companies well ahead of potential infringement lawsuits it is almost impossible to know what the intentions of company executives are -- or will be,
I think Brian made it clear in his article that what the troll is doing is morally wrong, not legally wrong. He also identified the difference between an NPE and a troll - as he put it, the troll buys a patent with intention to sue. The troll is never the inventor, the inventor is never a troll Apparantly the patent system is open to this type of abuse. The trolls thrive on questionable patents which are settled out of court and would never survive re-examination, so the ideal solution is to devise a cheaper method of invalidating weak patents. Unfortunately, the USPTO have done the oppostie and raised the cost of filing an ex-parte re-examination.
You are very adamant about this (use of capital letters).
But it is not clear in this case that the lawyer and the potential IP acquirer he represented had done anything wrong.
And the boundaries are grey. What is the difference between a NPE and a troll; between a NPE and an engineering company? Does engineering work down earlier this year count even though the effort is discontinued?
Many companies retain IP portfolios in areas where they are non-practicising even though they do engineering in other areas. Practising companies often want to create patent pools held by third-party non-practising entities to enable them to draw down their value and prevent unlicensed use of technology, and so on.
You are saying don't feed trolls, but it seems it is not the companies that are to blame but the patent/legal system.
While ever that is structured the way it is you will have company's that own and make money out of patents in a manner that is independent of, and allowed to be independent of, whether they make products.
@wilber_xbox- I'm with you. But I think there are hard decisions sometimes. We all, or ost of us, want to be eithical and honest in our professional lives, but sometimes the line gets blurry. All we can do is trust our gut.
I always think of doctors when i am in dilemma about such situations. Doctors take oath to save the life of a patient no matter what category he/she belongs to or the past history. So, as an engineer the most important task is to do the work deligently and honestly.
An interesting case of a struggle between maintaining integrity and making a buck. Most of us have to deal with this at some point in our careers. It's never an easy call. For instance, do you continue to manufacture digital pocket scales when you realize their main use is in pushing street drugs? Issues like that seem to be everywhere.