Brian: Why was there no paperwork for your initial role? I suspect it is what another writer noted -- they didn't want a paper trail that shows you found little value. If a lawsuit ever materializes in this case, it would be hard to identify you as someone who had been involved in this matter at all. In the meantime, they could proceed if they found another appraiser who thought the patents were worth a great deal, but I would think it would be in their own interest to get an accurate appraisal.
Peter, I must confess a little concern over the bidding process for patents. It is an interesting idea but we should not be limiting the number of patents in a year or for that matter the number to a company or indivigual. That would only stifle creativety and leave open the possible loss of revenue if a competetor were to gain a patent just because you had used up your quota. I would like to see a patent office review process that really determines what is valid or may be patented, rather than the current approach of patent it then we will find out if it is patenable through lawsuits. Again, I feel the problem is with the patent office not the patent holders or others. There needs to be a higher level of determination prior to a patent being awarded.
Bear in mind that patents are granted in the name of individuals who nearly always assign them to a corporate entity. They do so because it usually a condition of employment that everything somebody invents in the course of their work MUST be assigned to the employer.
So in a way company's are "buying" patents with their salary checks ...and they only do so on the basis that may use those patents to protect their economic interest, in other words sue.
So by some people's definition of patent troll you could argue that ALL companies are patent trolls.
The biggest problem that I see is that patents are issued (at great expense) far too easily and it is then left to a confrontational legal system (at great expense) to argue over which ones are valid, which ones are infringed, and which ones should never have been issued.
It all makes work for the working lawyer to do.
Perhaps if there was a limit to the number of patents that could be issued in a year and companies had to bid to obtain the right to try and patent something.
That would limit the number of patents and the bidding process would mean only the most useful/valuable ones would get granted.
I agree Peter, we should not feed the trolls. On the other hand, we need to fix the system instead of just not liking how it works. I was disapointed in the Patent law fix proposals but do not know what should be done to fix a clearly brocken system. I want the original creator/inventer to own their work, AND not have to spend many dollars fighting off Trolls and/or larger corportations to protect their IP. It seems to me that there needs to be some sort of review of challenges to patents done by an impartail 3rd party (How about the Patent Office). Sort of that we will continue to see money harvesting being done to extract money via lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits.
Hi Brian -- it's strange how you can be an ethical person but -- if you aren't careful -- you can end up being drawn into things of a dubious nature.
When I was a teanager, one of my aunts told me "Be true to yourself." I didn't really understand what she meant at the time, but I grew to understand over time as "choices" came my way.
I think that the simplest way to go about things is to just steer clear of anything that in any way makes you uncomfortable. Of course this is often "easier said than done," but it's a great starting point :-)
"If stock trading is ethical then why not the Patent trading?
I am not against patent trading and just look at how much of it has been going on recently. The patent porfolios of Nortel, Motorola and others have gone for huge sums of money. Are the poeple that bought them non-ethical? Are these coalitions that are buying up patents for several companies non-ethical? A stock trader can be very ethical as can a patent trader. This is very different from being a troll.
"They obviously weren't too vested in whatever they had you research"
This was an early investigation and they just wanted a quick assessment of the quality of the patents. They had told me that if my first impressions were favorable, then they would want me to help with full due dilligence and valuation of the patents. I could have made a lot more money out of them by telling them that they were good, but I gave my honest opinion that meant they probably went no further with it.
"If stock trading is ethical then why not the Patent trading?"
Stock trading in the way you describe - where someone "creates hype" simply for the purpose of raising or lowering the price of a stock in order to profit from it - is not ethical or condoned, even on Wall Street. (Admittedly it isn't always an easy call - it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether someone is "hyping" something or just expressing a strongly-held conviction.)