One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
Latest posts by Seton Motley (see all)
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It is disappointing to see so many people who usually reside on the Right – go screaming Leftward on an issue so fundamental to all-things-free-market as private property protection. In this particular case – patent protection.
All sorts of things that in every other instance the Right loves to excoriate and ridicule – these Converts-to-the-Left must ignore or accept as a part of their effort to undermine the patent system. Do these Converts mean to undermine the system? I doubt it. But we do know that’s what the Left wants to do (Hello, Google) – and these Converts are helping them do it.
One of the things these Converts have to ignore is something that is ordinarily their bread-and-butter: government incompetence. Lots and lots of government incompetence. Congress is rife with it – but these Converts suddenly have in it profound confidence. To with exquisite precision delineate between patent lawsuits they deem worthy and patent lawsuits they deem unworthy.
Which in the absolute best of circumstances – is nigh impossible. Because legislation and law don’t work that way. If a law makes something difficult for someone – it makes it difficult for EVERYONE. Yet somehow this time we’re going to write legislation that can so pristinely discriminate? Our Congress? Threading that stack of needles? I don’t think so – and I don’t know how anyone on the Right could.
And in fact, the bills currently under consideration – which the Converts are promoting – fail completely in this regard.
And this discussion isn’t even the one we should be having. Because the actual, original sin – is government incompetence at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO approved many, many patents – that had no business being approved. It is these patents that are the font of all the lawsuits in question.
But here’s the rub: lawsuits on patents that should have been approved and those filed on patents that should not have – are ALL legitimate lawsuits. Because the government approved the patents. Thus there is actually no such thing as a “patent troll.”
Attacking litigants for filing suits based upon government-approved patents is absurd, woefully misaimed – and cataclysmically damaging to the entire patent system. Rigging the courts against private property holders – only makes it easier for thieves of that private property.
My defense of these bedrock conservative principles has drawn some direct fire from a few Converts. I responded to several shots from Mytheos Holt here. I’ll now respond to Chuck Muth – who recently took a shot:
“As a bona fide, card-carrying, 007 Patent Troll Hunter, I have to take issue with my conservative colleague, Seton Motley of Less Government, who recently accused patent troll hunters of suffering from an ‘obsessive fetish’ with patent trolls. ‘Just say ‘patent troll’ in front of any member of this tiny cohort,’ Seton suggested, ‘and watch them freak out.’”
“Um, not quite. Seton maintains that patent holders who file lawsuits are just ‘trying to protect their private property from unauthorized use by someone who doesn’t want to pay to use it.’ He adds: ‘Is someone who owns a house and calls the police to roust squatters a ‘property troll’? Is someone who reports their car stolen an ‘automobile troll’?’”
“Clever questions…but completely beside the point.”
Really? How so? That last line is all Muth does to address these key ideas. Saying something is beside the point – is not the same thing as actually proving it is. Muth does not come anywhere near the latter. He instead goes on to (inadvertently, I’m guessing) agree with me:
“If you’re defending a legitimate patent, no problemo. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about are extremely questionable patents….”
They’re questionable – but they’re approved by the USPTO. Which means from a legal perspective – they aren’t questionable. Thus any subsequent action based upon them is legitimate – up to and including lawsuits filed in protection thereof.
But again, Muth and his other Converts’ “solution” – is to undermine the holders of ALL government-approved patents. Whether they mean to or not – because that’s how legislation and law work.
The Left’s intent here is not to solve the problem – it is to solve THEIR problem. They have to pay for the patents they use – and they don’t want to do so. They’d rather steal them – and this legislation would make it exponentially easier for them to do so.
Which ain’t at all good for those of us who understand the vital import of private property – including the protection of inventors working to deliver us an endless supply of the Next Great Things.
The only legitimate question that remains unanswered is: Why do these Converts want to help the Left do all that?