I previously noted that NTP used the patent system to wring over $600M out of RIM, the manufacturer of the Blackberry smartphone. As noted by Mike Masnick, now RIM has coughed up another quarter billion dollars to another company, Visto (“coincidentally” a licensee of NTP). A quarter billion dollars–everyone yawns. Masnick asks, why did NTP have to pay Visto?
For being the loser in the market place. This is a tax on innovation. The loser in the marketplace forces the winner to hand over a nice chunk of profits. It’s bad for everyone (except some lawyers and Visto shareholders).
Masnick is right: this is yet another tax on innovation. Patents are killing innovation (see Yet Another Study Finds Patents Do Not Encourage Innovation). This is the age of technocide.[Masnick opined that one reason NTP invested in Visto to get it to take out an NTP license was: "That certainly looks like NTP paying a company to license its patents, just to make it looks like there were some legitimate licensees."
This may be right, but as I explain in "Impact of Patent Licensing on Patent Litigation and Patent Office Proceedings" (available on my legal site), "a license under the patent may be offered as persuasive evidence in rebutting a prima facie case for obviousness." In other words, one reason patentees seek to license their patents is to build up the case that the patent is not obvious--to use it in litigation later to help defend the patent.]