LP’s Root called ‘patent hoarder’

A posting at Techdirt is critical of Libertarian vice presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root, saying Root “appears to be your garden variety patent hoarder who has been successfully forcing a bunch of online sports betting websites to pay up over a patent that seems to very broadly cover an online prediction market (a concept that has been both talked about and been around for quite some time). Not that the party has even the slightest chance of getting anywhere, but I guess it’s safe to assume that the Libertarian Party’s platform won’t have much about patent system reform this year.”

26 thoughts on “LP’s Root called ‘patent hoarder’

  1. Fred Church Ortiz

    No thanks, I already have plenty of reasons to dislike Root. Now you’re just piling them on.

  2. darolew

    Root’s business dealings show him to be a real sleazebag, from what I’ve heard.

  3. George Donnelly

    I’m no fan of Root but …. is this coming from people who want to abolish patents/ intellectual property altogether?

    I think the problem with patents today is the Patent Office approving patents where there is prior art. They’re being careless and/or are being used in the service of businesses who are looking to use government to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

  4. Gene Trosper

    The question I ask in response to this posting is:


    Hardly anything damning there.

  5. Fred Church Ortiz

    George: The vibe I’ve always gotten from sites like Techdirt or Slashdot has been closer to your view: the complaints about prior art, lax standards at the patent office, and also excessively vague patents being granted (which seems to be Techdirt’s real beef here).

    I, however, am one of those people that want to abolish IP altogether. I’m a generally moderate guy, and this certainly isn’t the burning issue of our day (unless Root happens to sue you for letting users rate oddsmakers on your site), but feeling the way I do, I have to treat this as a negative. Hell, it’s even a dick move when judged by the issues you put forward.

    Gene: So there.

  6. ElfNinosMom

    And to think I thought Root was just a garden variety attention whore….. LOL

    Seriously …. though I very strongly dislike Root, if he has a patent, I don’t see anything wrong with him enforcing it. It is his property, after all.

  7. Fred Church Ortiz

    The problem with patents is that they put the property rights of one person over the property rights of another. In this case, Root’s saying the people that own a website can’t use their property as they intend to, because he owns the idea of their layout. Likewise copyright dictates that you can’t dispose of your ink and paper the way you want because someone else arranged the letters in the same order before, or use that spindle of blank CDs you payed cash for, or sing a song you like in a public. I believe in property rights, and I believe in the esoteric, but I don’t believe in extending property rights to the esoteric.

  8. Steve Perkins

    The patent thing is a tough one for me. On one hand, I’ve been an open-source software developer (and Slashdot junkie) for 12 years… I spent several years contributing to the GCC compiler suite. On the other hand, I’m currently in law school… primarily studying intellectual property.

    I don’t think there is an official “libertarian” position on intellectual property. I’ve met some well-known Libertarians like Seth Cohn, who think the whole notion of IP is bad. However, the groundwork for IP in the U.S. Constitution was the brainchild of Thomas Jefferson, one of the LP’s biggest heroes.

    I think the biggest problems in IP today are: multi-year delays at the USPTO which force people to do aggressive things, the high cost of litigating invalid patents, and the neverending expansion of copyright terms. The courts and USPTO have been responding strongly in recent years… raising the bar for patent validity, and setting up administrative reexamination procedures by which one can challenge the validity of an issued patent without multi-million dollar litigation.

    There are still problems, and bad apples out there (the correct term isn’t “patent hoarder”, it’s “patent TROLL”… although I haven’t reviewed the patent to say whether the label fits here). However, truly outrageous patents became outside the norm after the dot-com bubble imploded.

  9. Thomas L. Knapp

    I’m undecided on IP issues in general. However, I think it’s reasonably obvious that if someone manages to finagle a patent that is facially invalid — something that should be in the public domain — it’s a bad thing.

    To put a finer point on it, if something isn’t rightfully patentable, then getting a patent on it and demanding fees to use it is essentially extortion — “you can pay me $X, or sue me which will cost you $X*2, or I’ll sue you which may cost you $X*3.”

    I haven’t seen the patents at issue here, so I don’t know if that’s what Root is doing. If that IS what he’s doing, then it’s sleazy. Attempting to patent a broad concept is bulllshit. If no one has patented “walking down the street” yet, can I? If I can, can I then demand royalties from everyone who does it?

  10. George Phillies

    “Patent hoarder” is an extremely potent critique within a particular community. If you do not think it is serious, you need to understand that community much more clearly.

  11. darolew

    I don’t believe there is any right to any sort of Intellectual “Property” (propaganda phrase). Theft requires for something to be taken — copying a file or reimplementing someone else’s idea is not taking anything — the original author still has their copy. If I had a futuristic machine that could instantly produce clones of any physical object, would it be theft for me to clone my neighbor’s chair? Would I have stolen his chair? No. Yet, that’s the logic of calling copyright infringement theft.

    However, for practical reasons of encouraging the creation of new ideas, I do think some copyright/patent laws are fine, but only limited ones. Software patents should be abolished entirely, they do nothing but hinder progress (who ever heard of patenting what is essentially math anyway). Industrial patents are fine as long as they are for a short period. Same for copyright.

    Jeez, copyright. Copyright originally lasted for 14 years with an optional 14 year extension. This was in the late 18th century, when materials took years to publish and become profitable. Now, in the 21st century, when technology has spread the propagation of ideas considerably, copyright lasts 70-140 years. Ridiculous. Congress long ago sold out to the special interests on this one.

  12. Allen

    The question is not patents. It’s government ineptitude. Yakking on and on about irresolvable philosophical minutae is exactly how NOT to do anything constructive about it.

    But Oh, that is so much easier than pulling together behind the only party that’s ever going to even look at the core problem.


  13. Fred Church Ortiz

    Sure, the best solution is to get behind someone that’s part of the problem.

    Certainly, we shouldn’t discuss an issue we’re not in agreement on. That might get in the way of doing something. What something? Doesn’t matter, just stop talking. Might as well shut down the blog GE, we’re coming off as lazy.

  14. sunshinebatman

    Root is a gangster. The only thing he can bring worthwhile to the table would be some of that mafia money. He better start ponying up.

  15. Allen

    Fred, you can see it that way. Or you can realize that you’re just a subsequent generation echoing an ancient conversation too often repeated.

    But that wouldn’t fit in, wouldn’t it? I mean, it makes sense that people who don’t know old history wouldn’t know recent history either.

    I understand that all this is really a trust issue. People who don’t trust others always end up in alternative groups looking for the safety they really don’t believe is possible, seeking a way to be right for decrying, sabotaging and undermining fear objects rather than taking a chance that someone might actually be what he says he is now, despite what he was several years ago.

    Bob Barr wasn’t born perfect. But neither were you. From my 40 years in the movement, you’re a johnnie-come-lately too, and I’m sure you did something back when that I could slam you with for being imperfect.

    Never mind the intervening time and self-development. You did it, you’re bad forever, end of stry.

    Pretty sad, eh?


  16. Fred Church Ortiz

    I’ve criticized Barr much less than most people for his actions in Congress, because I don’t expect him to be a libertarian before he ever tried to be a libertarian. Now Barr’s doing a better job putting himself forward as one than he did before the nomination. I’ve used the exact same lines you have in defending him, and still believe them.

    I also wasn’t talking about Bob Barr. I was talking about Wayne Root. These are two separate people, one of whom is the topic of this thread. I see a difference between someone that comes into a party with a bad history he’s trying to turn around, and someone that’s still actively abusing the system they’re running to cut down.

  17. Allen

    Actively abusing? I haven’t seen that you or anyone else has reviewed the patent in question on its merits, yet several posters have gone forward with condemnation, now you included.

    Further, as George points out, patent hoarding is a term of art; is that what Root is doing here? No evidence to that. A patent-defense lawsuit alone isn’t defining to anyone who knows anything about it.

    So this is not just a discussion of our positions and the merits of a candidate. It’s a punching bag derby, at least in part, and admitted by some on several blogs, as a quest for justification for disliking someone just because they can’t dictate his personality.

    I’ve spent time with Root, interrogated him to the point of abuse, and found him to be eager to find his own best path to libertarian perfection.

    But I’ve also found him to be a strong person who is no way going to yield to jackals who make unfounded accusations and imperious demands.

    When he appeared before us at the 2007 CA convention and was challenged that he seemed to need a bit of work on our positions and history, his respone was, No doubt: bring it on! When he reappeared at our 2008 convention, the improvement was startling. And I have every reason to believe, sincere: he has done everything he told me he would, and more.

    He has honored his committments in every way I could test. He deserves more respect than he’s getting here.


  18. Fred Church Ortiz

    “Actively abusing? I haven’t seen that you or anyone else has reviewed the patent in question on its merits, yet several posters have gone forward with condemnation, now you included.”

    I’ve read the patent, and didn’t see the need to summarize the entire contents of a 40 page document to point out what it’s about, as anyone else can do the same. To spare time, skip to page 39 and read what the patent claims protection on. I make no claim to be a lawyer, or to judge whether this would hold up in court; but in determining what’s reasonable, I work with what I have. This fails that test.

    “Further, as George points out, patent hoarding is a term of art; is that what Root is doing here?”

    As Steve points out, no, it’s what would normally be called patent trolling. I haven’t seen anything to suggest Root’s a hoarder.

    “It’s a punching bag derby, at least in part, and admitted by some on several blogs, as a quest for justification for disliking someone just because they can’t dictate his personality.”

    I like Root’s personality. He was right when he came down on Robert Milnes like a ton of bricks about our candidate needing enthusiasm. What I don’t like is that he’s using the government to squeeze money out of his competitors.

    My major complaint with Root since early on was foreign policy. As time went on, he seemed to improve his stance more towards a direction I think is correct as well as best for the party. Now more has come to light that he was still making statements based on the idea that we’re right to have our troops all over the world well after he began changing his tune. It’s tough for me to accept his conversion while he’s giving off having-it-both-ways vibes, and I’m not going to turn a blind eye to something I consider unethical.

    Tom Knapp wrote a detailed indictment of Root’s business that was posted on Third Party Watch several months ago. Root responded with a release that seemed like a reasonable response. Now that he’s coming under scrutiny from media outside our little third party blog world, it’s important he does the same again. If/when he clears up the matter, I’ll stop bitching.

  19. Allen

    Fair enough, Fred.

    Although, if we achieved a libertarian society which yet protected property as we all agree it should, no one has yet to explain how there could be the perfect elimination of some form of organized force in that protection. There will always be somebody bigger, stronger, and less ethical, and in the final stage with someone who cares nothing for his own life and will shoot you to rape your family and eat your garden, or steal your tools, or take any of the other fruits of your labors and ingenuities, or just for the kick of it, you will have to resort to force. And if he has enough friends, that force will have to be organized and prepared.

    Absolutes are unobtainable, and there will always be a need for organized force–government, if you will–because in the final analysis, people themselves aren’t ideal, nor good enough for utopia.

    So the argument isn’t about whether government, it is how much and why. As you say, Root has moved in that direction, and we should (and I think, can) expect that movement to continue.


  20. Fred Church Ortiz

    I agree with everything you just wrote Allen. This must be that consensus thing I hear so much about. Seems pleasant 😀

  21. lostinmo

    Call it what you will…patent troll, patent hoarder, etc. It all means one thing: “We’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”.

    When corporate America agrees to not use our inventions without consent, American inventors and small entities will agree to stop suing them.

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