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Copyright, IP, Patent

Mandatory Viewing For Anyone Interested In Patent Monetization

Think of it as the anti-Sally Fields phenomenon. They hate you. They really, really hate you. If you dare to purchase an asset that essentially constitutes nothing more than the right to exclude someone from doing something, you’ll be vilified by others the moment you deploy that asset in an attempt to *gasp* exclude someone from doing something! If you own patents that you want to broadly enforce, or if you’re thinking about buying patents for the same reason, understand that you will be hated and demonized. Respectable, smart business people will scream at you over the phone, and lawyers will have investigators scour the earth looking for any “dirt” they can find. Don’t ask me why they’ll do it, just trust me, they will.

Steve Gibson (Dickinson Wright partner and Righthaven CEO) has been enforcing IP in the copyright space for a little over a year now, and he’s a little short on friends at the moment.  Undaunted, Gibson isn’t giving up, and went so far as to be interviewed by Jon Ralston on a program called Face to Face about his company’s copyright enforcement program and its recent losses at the hands of some federal judges.

I highly recommend watching the interview because it’s a good example of how easily facts can be twisted into presenting selected facts and painting someone in the most negative light possible.  For example, throughout the interview, aside from hardly being given a chance to give half an answer, Ralston continually confuses Righthaven’s copyright assignment problems with their failure to disclose Stephens Media as an interested party. The truth is, these two issues have nothing to do with each other, which Ralston admits (yet he doesn’t stop bringing it up).

Gibson at one point tries to explain that his legal team believed their interpretation of the rule did not require disclosure of Stephens Media, but Ralston clearly wasn’t interested.  Of course, that’s largely irrelevant as far as any sort of deceitful intent goes because, as Gibson also tried to point out, both Righthaven and Stephens Media made clear from the outside that the two companies were operating for mutual benefit. Frankly, that’s a good enough reason to go ahead and disclose the interest to the court, but that’s a battle between Righthaven, its lawyers and the court.

The point is, if someone thinks you’re doing something wrong, they’re going to treat you as if you’re guilty and act as judge, jury and executioner when they deal with you. You might think they won’t. You might think it won’t happen to you. But you’re wrong.

Watch the interview.



5 thoughts on “Mandatory Viewing For Anyone Interested In Patent Monetization

  1. As usual, exceptionally well written and right on point.

    Posted by Anthony Hayes | June 25, 2011, 7:00 pm
    • Thanks Anthony … any experience with this? I’d love for someone, even anonymously, to confirm for my readers the visceral reactions frequently invoked by daring to initiate licensing discussions. It’s remarkable how everyone that’s engaged in any significant number of licensing discussions seems to have the same general stories to tell about their reactions.

      Posted by Patrick | June 27, 2011, 9:59 am
  2. Many IP owners have forgotten the old adage “Pick your battles wisely”. People have a natural aversion to those that are obsessed with absolute control over everything. It goes for overbearing bosses, overbearing parents, overbearing politicians and yes even overbearing IP owners. Just like bosses cause a loss of productivity when they must control over their employees so do IP owners that over-zealously protect their IP.

    No one faults an IP owner for protecting their work from out and out plunder but when they go to the extremes in a way that does little or nothing to their bottom lines and is really more of an act of control over people than a control over their IP then people rightly get agitated.

    Posted by Ken Bingham | June 25, 2011, 8:21 pm
    • Ken,

      Good points, all. However, in my experience, the use of litigation as a tool to drive licensing opportunities is done out of a necessity, rather than any desire to “control” the deployment of IP. Granted, on a certain level the two are one and then same. The point being, when litigation is simultaneously used to address specific “wrongs” of the past and used to negotiate licenses, it’s very hard to tell the difference.

      The purpose of this post is to illustrate that most will assume the former and interpret the use of courts as purely a gross act of aggression, as opposed to a mere reality of today’s transactional market. It’s something I’m obviously working to change, along with many others with far more influence than myself, but in the meantime I want people to understand what they’re getting themselves into.

      Posted by Patrick | June 27, 2011, 9:56 am


  1. Pingback: A ‘Bike Lesson’ From Dickinson Wright Partner (And Righthaven CEO) Steve Gibson On IP Monetization « Gametime IP - March 28, 2012

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