Sunday, March 4, 2007

Swift Tech Boat Tricks

Larry Ebert beat me to the punch on this Dirty Tech Troll Trot. There is dirty pool and there is truly troublesome playing of dirty pool. The Dirty Tech guys have crossed the line. Study their opening paragraph for rhetorical technique rather than substance:
A reader sent in a defense of patent trolls, written by (surprise, surprise) an IP lawyer. He trots out a number of different points which not only conflict with each other, but don't make very much sense. He flat out says that "Far from stifling innovation, [patent] trolls foster it," though he fails to actually back up that statement. He starts out by denying that patent trolls exist, because there's no real definition for them, which seems like an odd way to go about defending them. Later on, he even tries to claim that critics are doing a lot more harm to innovation by using the phrase patent trolls, because it's such a negative term -- and it's such a shame that public perception is against these poor trolls, because it makes it more difficult for them to settle lawsuits and get the hundreds of millions they deserver for, you know, not actually bringing anything to market.
This is a multi-layered school yard bully attack. They can't win on substance. So they go for name calling. Step back for a moment and realize that trolls don't exist. Trolls are yet another Grimms Fairy Tale fabrication just as are the Evil Eyed Talking Tech Dolls (of Chucky's Seed fame) and the Flying Monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. The Dirty Tech doll guys are using something known as the "ad hominem" attack. It's quite simple. Very effective. Try to make fun of the person and get everyone worried they might be next. If you fall for their swift boat bullying attack, it is only because you are a cowardly lion with a straw filled head. You should know better. Despite their repeated insistance, the fabled troll from under Billy the Bully Goat's bridge really does not exist. And if you don't get a patent first before trying to bring something to market, there is nothing to stop the Greed-is-Good Goliaths from snatching it out of your cradle. The Dirt Talking Tech guys are with Goliath. Who's side are you on kimosabee? Think about it.


Step Back said...

Here is a link to the etymology of the term, "patent troll".

Step Back said...

Some journalists actually take time out to report on life from under the bridge. Read here about one entreupreneur's experience.

Anonymous said...

Some people CREATE,
And some BERATE.

Go here to
read the DEBATE.

Mike said...

Wait, which is the ad hominem attack? The guy who defends his argument, or the guy who takes my argument out of context and pretends I don't back up my statements.

The more amusing thing is that as you read through the comments, the only people working with ad hominem attacks are those defending patent trolls.

To be honest, I hate the term patent trolls and try not to use it very often, but you'll note that the original author did, so in that case, it seems like fair game.

I don't believe I attacked the person writing the article at all, by the way. I focused very much on his arguments, and why they're completely wrong.

However, the points do stand. His argument doesn't make much sense when exposed to the light of day (i.e., the real world). The problem with so called "patent trolls" (again, his use of the phrase, not mine) is that they are usually fighting cases where the invention was developed totally independently -- where the person holding the patent contributed exactly NOTHING to the progress of the arts and science. It was the company that actually innovated and actually brought the product to market that served society... and what do they get for it?

A huge bill from the guy who sat around and did nothing and contributed nothing to the idea.

That seems like a pretty big problem.

And, I find it extra amusing that for you accusing us of an ad hominem attack, you don't put forth a single point to defend the patent system -- but simply insult us. That's not what we did at all. I defend my reasoning and stand by it. It's not an attack on the guy, but his ideas.

What did you do with this post other than attack us? You certainly didn't attack our ideas.

The only point you make is this one:

And if you don't get a patent first before trying to bring something to market, there is nothing to stop the Greed-is-Good Goliaths from snatching it out of your cradle

But that's just false. Look at all the small companies that have successfully competed with big companies not by patents, but by out-innovating them. The "goliaths" as you call them are beatable in the same way David beat Goliath: by relying on ingenuity, speed and competitiveness to take out big, slow, louts who are too confident in their own ability to succeed.

Microsoft beat IBM. Google beat Microsoft. Ford beat the horse-drawn carriages.

It wasn't the patents, but the ability to innovate.

Step Back said...

I'm glad that you were able to pick up at least on the first level of irony in my post, namely, that I was using the ad hominem attack technique to hit back and fight fire with fire.

However, you forgot to mention that like your "surprise surprise" technique, I too was using many mind manipulating tricks including that of weaving alliterations into every twist and turn.

You forgot to mention that I too was using repetition to dredge up nonsensical ideations about fictional characters from popular culture for the pupose of drilling them into the reader's head like an earworm.

How many times does this word you so hate ("troll") appear in your editorial? Never mind. I did the hard math for you. Thirteen (13) times.

Yup. You hated it so much you repeated it thirteen (13) times.

Thirteen (13) times.

Yup, Just like you, I was sending "mixed messages" into the reader's brain. I was doing it in very much the same way that your bully's BS in the first place was trying to inject mixed messages without any factual back up.

In terms of real factual backup for my assertion that, but for patents, the Goliaths will snatch up a startup's technology like candy from a baby, ... well, that is a tough row to hoe. The losers and shriveled-up ones of industry don't like to "brag" about their foolishness and failure.

The waste bins of history are filled with forgotten inventors who did not patent their work but instead walked hat in hand into some industrial tycoon's office just like a young eager fly crawling onto a spider's web.

I'm sure the readers out there can start recalling the names of so many startups that disappeared overnight because they did not have any decent patents. Wasn't it Bricklin who said he regretted not patenting Visicalc? So where on the NY stock market listing do I look up Visi Corp.? (Or should I call it "corpse"?)

This whole business of repeatedly trotting out the "trolls" is an under handed, swift boat sink technique for harping against patents on general.

Universities get patents for their R&D without ever bringing their innovations into the marketplace. So does the US Governement! They sell their patents to others. To others who may sell it to others in our free enterprise system. You are calling our cherished academic institutions "trolls". You are calling the US government a "troll". Shame.

Step Back said...

I'm reposting here, for the sake of our posterity, my response to Mike the Troll Trotter, as posted on his web site:

I'm probably wasting my time responding to your "repeated" knock downs of the emotional contact kind.

Let me give it a shot anyway.

Let's step back, not to Article 1 section 8, clause 8 of the US Constitution but rather to the Preamble of the darn thing:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I bolded two phrases for purpose of emphasis: "to promote the general welfare" and the part about it not being just for the self-centered us, for the here and now, but also for "our posterity" ... IOW, for the long term good of our children.

You are correct that in terms of my immediate need for instant gratification and desire to have all I can have, the patent system sucks. Why shouldn't I have everything I desire now and for the lowest possible cost? Screw the generations to come. If there is a pharmaceutical that will help me now, I want it now. At generic pricing. If there is a piece of software that will make my life better now, I want it now. At freeware pricing levels.

And if some poor slob of an inventor does not get compensation for having been "first", screw him (or her). Who cares? All that matters is that I get mine and I get it now. All that matters is that some aggressive company get the stuff to me ASAP.

Of course, if you were to step back and give some of this attitude a little more thought, you would realize that it is a recipe for long term disaster.

Maybe not today. But soon, the word would go out to all independent inventors to not bother. Why expend any energies when someone bigger and bullier than you is just going to reach in and take it away whenever they spot you on their radar screen? Why not return to the "good old days" when everything was a "trade secret"?

Mike, don't you remember the good old days, the Dark Ages? That was when the masses were kept illiterate and ignorant. Only the elite few were entitled to knowledge and its fruits. And if you think that, thanks to our opposable thumbs, "we" are incapable of returning to the Dark Ages, you are more delusional and self-centered than I thought you were in the first place. :-)

Step Back said...

Speaking of a Goliath snatching things away like candy from the baby's hand, here is a press release that was just emailed to me:

Here It Is, Again -- David and Goliath

Step Back said...

Other Tales from the Troll Files:
Burst versus MS and Apple

The Burst Papers

The Harpies' Harangue is that trolls never produce anything, never bring a product to market. But Burst did bring product to market. Nonetheless it is bashed in usual school yard bully style as being a "troll".

The real definition of "troll" is anyone who challenges Goliath.

Troll trotting and nuanced namecalling are well worn bully techniques for crushing small time upstarts.

What name will you go by when your time comes for trying to claim a piece of Goliath's ill-gotten pie?

Anonymous said...

Here's one for your "Innovation X Files":

Proof that Gates III is a truly a Goliath among inventors, right up there with Edison, Bell and the Wright brothers:

Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for:
(IN/"Gates, III" AND IN/William): 2 patents.

1. 7,106,725 Full-Text Integration of voice and data channels
2. 5,552,982 Full-Text Method and system for processing fields in a document processor

Anonymous said...

"This is a multi-layered school yard bully attack. They can't win on substance. So they go for name calling."

How ironic: this is the favorite rhetorical trope of most patent attornerys I've encountered.

Step Back said...

"How ironic: this is the favorite rhetorical trope of most patent attornerys I've encountered."

I'm glad you are so thoroughly enjoying a taste of your own medicine. Of course, a fair and balanced sense of justice would have wanted such an outcome in the first place.