Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mike Masnick (TechDirt) takes on Gary Odom (PatentHawk)

An April 24 post at TechDirt tited 28 More Companies Sued Over Grouped Toolbars Patent begins:

You may recall last summer that we wrote about Gary Odom (as known as Patent Hawk) who has been known to stop by our site here to throw around an insult or two (nice guy!). It seems that Odom, who had previously worked with Microsoft, doing prior art research for its patents, had decided to turn around and sue Microsoft for having software toolbars that take different toolbar items and group the items together (stunning innovation, there). It later turned out that he may have violated his contracts in suing Microsoft.

That case is still ongoing, but why stop with just suing one company? Especially when that company is big and has lots of lawyers. Why not sue 28 other companies over the same patent. Amusingly, when Joe Mullin from IP Law & Business called Odom to comment, Odom refused, saying: "You're a hack job, man." Always a pleasant guy, that Odom. However, Odom had no problem discussing at length the lawsuit on his own blog -- amusingly referring to himself in the third person, and (this is great) offering his own "expert" opinion on the validity of his own patents and lawsuit. Very credible.

Mike has invoked Joe Mullin before. See Masnick and Lemley-isms. Separately, Mike omitted mention of previous interactions between Odom and Mullin. See for example Blogging as antidote to Sikahema effect?

The comments to the April 24 post are of interest, starting with:

Obviously this guy is right. He had zero to do with the patents, produced nothing of importance to society, and is a lawyer.

Give him all the money he wants.
But Odom isn't a lawyer. Although not a lawyer, he does conduct prior art searches, and has something to do with patents.

Another comment links to an earlier TechDirt post, analyzing commenters:

I think angry dude == stv == mls == Ronald J. Riley == dorpus
are they all the same person ?

Nah, they each have their own distinct personalities -- and they all come from unique IP addresses. Well, MLS goes through phases where he reverts to being an Anonymous Coward or pretending to be others (even me, at times).

angry dude just throws insults and lies. He never adds anything remotely of value, and if you call him on it, he gets even more insulting. He claims to hold a patent, but never will show us what it is. Actually, he once claimed to own many patents, and then years later, claimed to have just received his first patent. So, his credibility is what it is.

stv calls me a shill repeatedly, and when confronted with actual evidence, suddenly runs and hides. By his own definition of a shill, he is a much bigger shill than I am. He posted once that a shill was anyone who only took one side on an issue. He seems to fit that to a T.

MLS is an IP lawyer, and goes through phases where he pretends to be an unbiased "elder wise man" who will correct "errors" here. But he has been caught repeatedly in logical inconsistencies. When he first showed up, he actually did add some useful counterpoints to the conversation. I think he means well, but he hasn't come across folks who disagree with him who actually have evidence behind their positions, so he's not quite sure how to deal with it. Lately, he's reverted to name calling and insults like the others. It's too bad.

Ronald Riley is a well known "character" convincing independent inventors to give him money in order to protect their interests. Whether or not he actually does so is a pretty open question. He's good at getting press for himself. He's not so good at actually making an argument or presenting evidence however.

dorpus stays out of patent debates, and prefers to focus on throwing non sequitors and vaguely insulting or threatening comments on random posts. Occasionally he's been known to threaten the lives of famous individuals.

You also left out Willton, who's a law student who tends to act as a stand-in for MLS at times. Willton also (I believe) means well, though it clearly frustrates him that some of us aren't as bought into the concept of the patent system as he is. He's bet his future livelihood on the patent system, so it's a little understandable that he has some cognitive dissonance when presented with evidence of problems with the system.

See? They're all different. MLS and Willton both mean well, and at times add value. stv, RJR and angry dude just throw insults and logically impossible claims that are easily proven false.

**Some other posts relating to Masnick-->

Mike Masnick again

**Some other links on the Odom matter

Joe Mullin's Patent Litigation Weekly: Inventor Gary Odom Sees Infringers Everywhere [wherein Alison Frankel plumps Mullin's column and blog: The Litigation Daily will be linking weekly to Mullin's column, which offers a true aficionado's view of significant developments in IP litigation that may not have crossed the national radar. If you practice patent law, you have to check it out.]

At Patent Litigation Weekly (April 13-17), one has

Odom has never created a product based on the '592 patent, nor has he accused any of the 30 companies he's sued of copying his ideas. Is it fair for Odom to demand money from small businesses—or any businesses, for that matter—when he doesn't even claim to have contributed to their success? "Infringement doesn’t require copying," says Goldstein. Very true. "If they are in fact infringers, why should their size allow them to infringe with impunity? I've said we would work with them."

If Mullin would stop sucking Lemley-isms, and read the patent statute, he would know "copying" is irrelevant in infringement.
If the accused product (or process) falls within the scope of a valid claim, that's infringement, whether or not the infringer "copied" or even knew of the claim. [IPBiz covered this before.]

Mullin's qualifications on patent law, from his blog: I graduated from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. My BA, also from Berkeley, is in History.


Blogger Joe said...

Lawrence, I'm perfectly aware that copying is irrelevant in patent infringement. Did you even read my entire post? I link back to an earlier post in which I discuss the issue of copying in depth (and yes, it's based on Lemley's research).

Copying, or the lack thereof, _is_ highly relevant to all aspects of the patent debate as long the public and Congress *believe* that patent lawsuits are about copying or "stealing." That's not a "Lemley-ism", that is just reality -- backed up by many sources.

10:30 AM  

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