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June 23, 2008



Qualcomm paid money for its attorneys to write a paper renaming "patent trolls" as "patent elves?" Precious.

Joe Mullin

The authors are one attorney at Howrey and two economists at LECG; I have no idea what their relationship, if any, is with Qualcomm beyond this paper. The footnote says simply, "Financial support from Qualcomm is gratefully

Joe Mullin

Also, to be clear, the only reference to the term "elves" is in the paper's title:

"Elves or Trolls? The Role of Non-Practicing Patent Owners in the Innovation Economy"


Did you read the paper? Your depiction of it does not make any sense. We never said that patent litigation increases competition, etc etc The point of the paper is that non-practising entities can play a useful role in the economy. Next time you comment on a paper, please read it before.

Joe Mullin


Thanks for your comment. I did read the paper before posting, but thanks for checking. I mentioned the title because I liked the title, not because I didn't read past the title.

You accurately describe the paper's main point above. But I think my comments are pretty clear.

The _controversy_ around NPE's that you weighed in on is about litigation. That is the essence of it. If you define NPE's broadly enough saying they "have a useful role in the economy" is about as meaningful and relevant as saying "universities have a useful role in the economy" or "hourly workers have a useful role in the economy." It's a non-argument; it's just a statement that nobody could possibly disagree with.

But your paper weighs in on the arguments about so-called "patent trolls" from the first line.

So you really are writing about a controversy over litigation—sorry, there's just no way around that one. You framed your argument that way. You waded into that water.

You did not write "lawsuits drive competition." You did say NPE behavior drives competition, and then neglected to mention the most relevant and controversial behavior; I filled in that blank. I don't think that's unfair.

The fact that the paper avoids discussing the true controversy in anything but the most oblique terms is not material to my post; I am not obligated to describe the debate using the terms you set out.

Joe Mullin

Now that I think on it, I'll also just note here that lawsuits and courts have many, many good and necessary uses that aren't always "pro-competitive." I think saying vigorous patent enforcement actually increases competition per se is a real stretch, but that doesn't mean I'm calling it "bad."

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