With recent news of the Democratic failure to get patent reform out of committee, I’ve been thinking about what we, the people, can really do to change the equation. If it were as easy as throwing the bums out on their ears, it wouldn’t be as frustrating – I could simply support, fund, and vote for members of the opposing party. Would that it were so simple. Much though I care about this issue, it pales beside social justice issues (on which the Republicans and I are pretty much diametrically opposed), so I can’t go with the shotgun approach. What’s needed is something with a bit more… finesse.
And so, I’ve come up with a little plan to help the primary stumbling blocks (looking at you, Senator Leahy) understand why patent trolls are such a problem. We’ll need a little time to set up, but really, it should be a fairly straightforward process.
Step 1: Obtain a software patent
In order for this to work, we’re going to need to get our hands on a software patent. It doesn’t have to be a particularly strong one, but as long as it’s sufficiently vague, it should do the trick. We don’t want to actually submit one – that would take too long, and we should be able to buy an appropriate one fairly cheaply. Even better if we can get someone to donate one to the cause.
Step 2: Kickstarter
It’s going to take some money – though hopefully not too much – to make this happen. None of the big companies will want to alienate a powerful senator, so we’ll have to crowdfund it. No problem. This is the kind of thing our kind of people will kick money into out of principle.
Step 3: Recruit an SOB
We’re going to need a litigator with Rorschach‘s sense of justice and Kafka’s sense of humor. Maybe we can get someone from the EFF who’s sick of being on the defense.
Step 4: Fight fire with fire
IANAL, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t sue their campaigns for patent infringement. On what grounds? Well, that’s exactly the point! We don’t need to have grounds, and if we choose our lawyer and patent carefully, we’ll be able to tie them up in expensive discovery for months. Which would be a massive distraction, I’m sure, from the midterm and/or 2016 elections. We would, of course, want to avoid states with anti-SLAPP laws, but that shouldn’t be a problem since there’s no federal anti-SLAPP law. Maybe we can get a twofer!
As I mentioned, I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know the details of what this would actually take. Most likely, it’s just a fun little thought experiment. But if you can indict a ham sandwich, and a troll can sue pretty much anyone for any reason, then I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to do a little enforced “sensitivity training” on some of our dear friends in the US Government. It would be interesting to hear from an actual lawyer what it would take to actually flesh it out.