Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Exporting "Trolling" to Japan

For many years, the U.S. has fretted about its trade-deficit with Japan and other Asian nations. Today, it appears that we have at least one export that the Japanese are beginning to warm up to: patent trolling.

We've talked before about the recent embrace of trolling strategies by corporate America, and we've also mentioned that traditional [small] trolls have often targeted Japanese companies for litigation because of their general fear of the U.S. court system regarding patents. Doesn't it only make sense, then, that the victims of less-than-fair patent laws would eventually awake to the scheme, and learn to use it to their own advantage?

It seems clear where this is all headed if allowed to continue: a world where the most powerful and rich corporations are not the ones that actually make innovative products, but are instead the ones that are most adept at manipulating the system to carve out huge chunks of the 'ideascape' to claim as their own, and which then sit idly by until some other party does try to make a product whose functionality might broadly cross the unclear boundaries of their patents. What will such corporations look like? They'll look exactly like today's patent trolls, only larger, and their main body of employees will be lawyers.


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