Nor did it do anything to stop the continued flood of new patents streaming out of the agency: Last year the office set a new record by granting nearly 250,000.

There's also a newer, even more unsettling problem: The big companies that once complained about trolls are now treating them like role models.

According to the New York Times, last year was the first in which Apple and Google spent more on patent lawsuits and acquisitions than they did on research and development for new products. In August Apple won a $1 billion patent-infringement judgment against Samsung.

Michael Risch: A soldier in the patent Cold War.
Michael Risch: A soldier in the patent Cold War.
Craig Hockenberry's Iconfactory had to cough up a settlement to patent-troll Lodsys: "Everybody focuses on the percentage of money that was spent to license the patent. To me, that's actually less damaging than what's done to your spirit."
Craig Hockenberry's Iconfactory had to cough up a settlement to patent-troll Lodsys: "Everybody focuses on the percentage of money that was spent to license the patent. To me, that's actually less damaging than what's done to your spirit."

Nest might have deeper pockets than most, but they still aren't as deep as Honeywell's. In early October, Nest announced that six of Honeywell's seven patents had been rejected in re-examination by the patent office. Yet Honeywell has so far refused to budge.

Which means that, ultimately, Nest might be the next to learn the most important rule of modern invention: that the best weapon against someone else's patents is a stockpile of your own.

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Andrew
Andrew

Garbage patents? I just came across one: http://www.google.com/patents/US20060138257

 

It's not tech related though. It's a patent for "Incontinence treating sporting outfits"; incontinence treating herbs are applied to something that is worn. I can't really tell what. It might be underwear, or maybe a plastic cup of some kind. The patent author's primary language is not English. It's hard to believe a patent examiner even looked at it. It makes all kinds of sweeping claims for specific steps of the process and manages to misnumber itself (look at claim #32 and #33-37).

 
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