Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

INTERNET PATENTS....Part 2 of the LA Times story about patents is up today. The subject is the internet, specifically Lawrence Lockwood, who claims a patent that applies to essentially all e-commerce.

One of the problems with the whole internet patent mess is that patent holders have a habit of attacking small companies who don't have the money to fight back. Then, after they've bagged a few dozen settlements, they can start in on the big companies backed up by a bunch of newspaper clippings that make them look like they're for real. Or, they can just send letters to small companies forever, collecting settlements from people who can't afford to go to court and never realize that they are part of a larger group that could fight back if they banded together. As Lockwood says:

If I win, I have a patent that has been validated by the court system. It will be a very powerful weapon. And if they win, they get nothing. Absolutely nothing.

In Lockwood's case, one of the little guys did decide fight back and managed to locate a bunch of other little guys to join him. It's an interesting story.

Kevin Drum 10:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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