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John Oliver Explains Patent Trolls

Patent trolls can stymie innovation and bring otherwise successful companies to their knees. They’re also crazy, as John Oliver points out in this clip from Last Week Tonight.

Our copyright and patent laws are far overdue for a major overhaul, but it will never happen until we get money out of politics. (Thanks to lobbyists like Chris Dodd.) John Oliver with an example of just how screwy our system is:

While patents are an essential protection against theft for inventors, there are those who abuse the system — the so-called patent trolls who stockpile patents and threaten possible infringers with frivolous lawsuits. Oliver thinks calling them “patent trolls” is insulting to trolls. “At least trolls actually do something,” he quips, “they control bridge access for goats and ask people fun riddles.”

Patent trolls force businesses to shell out tons of money, which can impede innovation, particularly in the software industry. Large companies, too, can hinder the success of small businesses by charging them huge sums to license patents that cover very simple ideas.

“This system is insane,” ranted Oliver. As usual, he reserves some ire for lawyers, noting that letting trial lawyers make decisions about “more baseless lawsuits” was the equivalent of “letting raccoons make laws about trash can placement.”


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