Fantastic hour-long exposé on Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures, which comes out looking like the root of all evil in the U.S. software patent protection racket. Lodsys, of course, is one of their shell company fronts.
A mafia style shakedown, where someone comes in the front door of
your building and says, “It would be a shame if this place
burnt down. I know the neighborhood really well and I can make
sure that doesn’t happen.” And saying, “Pay us up.” Now
here’s, here’s what’s funny. If you talk to … when I’ve
seen Nathan speak publicly about this and when I’ve seen
spokespeople from Intellectual Ventures, they constantly remind
us that they themselves don’t bring lawsuits, that they
themselves are not litigators, that they’re a defensive player.
But the truth is that the threat of their patent arsenal can’t
actually be realized, that it can’t be taken seriously unless
they have that offensive posture, unless they’re willing to
assert those patents. And so it’s this very delicate balancing
act that is quite reminiscent of scenes you see in movies when
the mafia comes to visit your butcher shop and they say to you,
“Hey, it would be a real shame if somebody else came and sued
you. Tell you what, pay us an exorbitant membership fee into our
collective and we’ll keep you protected that way.” A
protection scheme isn’t that credible unless some butcher shops
burn down now and then.