August 8, 2020

Open Source Voice Assistant Promises To ‘Nuke From Orbit’ Patent Troll

Open source voice assistant company Mycroft AI (which we actually wrote about years back) appears to be the latest startup to recognize that the only way to properly deal with patent trolls is to fight back. This strategy was first pioneered by online retailer Newegg, whose refusal to give in to any patent trolls eventually (after years of litigation) meant that patent trolls stopped trying to shake the company down. More recently, Cloudlfare has taken a similarly successful approach.

It appears that these kinds of moves have inspired Mycroft’s CEO, Joshua Montgomery, to take quite a stand now that a patent troll is trying to shake his company down:

Tod Tumey of Tumey LLP based out of Texas ( a venue famous for hosting patent trolls ) contacted us with a “Highly Confidential” letter offering to license his “client’s” “valuable” voice patents to Mycroft AI Inc. When we didn’t respond ( don’t feed the trolls! ) he filed suit in East Texas.

As a result, we’ve taken the time to develop an internal policy about how we’re going to deal with patent trolls. Here is how we’re going to handle them:

Our policy is also to attack bogus patents like U.S. Patent No. 9,794,348 and have them re-examined and invalidated where possible. We’ll be doing this in the context of a strong open source community that includes other troll hunters like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Open Innovation Network – both of whom have a strong interest in protecting open technology from rent-seeking trolls.

Patent trolls get paid because short-sighted companies make the decision to pay. Simply put, it is usually cheaper in the short run to pay a troll than it is to litigate. It is also cheaper to give a schoolyard bully your lunch money than it is to visit a doctor. The thing is, once you pay the bully, he’ll just come back again and again and again. Eventually, that lunch money adds up to a lot more than a doctor’s visit. In the long run the best way to deal with a bully is to punch him square in the face. You might take a beating, but if you do it every time? The bully will find easier prey.

I don’t like letting these matters go quietly. In my experience, it’s better to be aggressive and “stab, shoot and hang” them, then dissolve them in acid. Or simply nuke them from orbit, it is the only way to be sure.

Don’t hold back on letting us know how you really feel, Joshua.

Anyway, he also notes that the lawyer, Tumey, appears to have filed in the wrong venue (which one is not indicated), and so Mycroft is seeking to move the case, and then it’s going to go after Tumey for legal fees. Good for them.
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