opinion

Fighting the Fight

Brandon Shalton

After seven months of trying to bring attention to patent abuse cases like Acacia, in searching for prior art to help invalidate Acacia's DMT patent, and chatting with so many webmasters about this issue, FightThePatent.com and I are calling it quits for my full time involvement. The website will continue along with posting of relevant information pertaining to patent abuse cases in the area of audio/video.

I started this fight seven months ago by stopping my consulting and focusing a full time intensive effort to contact companies and individuals via phone, fax, and email. Many have asked why I would do that and the simple answer is, “activism requires a lot of efforts and time and I believe so strongly in fighting this wrong issue that I chose to dedicate my time and efforts to the cause.”

Activism requires time. Time is purchased with money. If a cause does not have money, they run out of time.

My active efforts were self-funded. I didn't ask money from people and I didn't take any when it was offered (and it was). After pushing hard for five months in a full time intensive effort then sliding back the last two months, it was time for me to change my priorities.

I initiated a proposal that if 1,000 - 2,000 webmasters would contribute $100 each as a one-time donation, that Fight the Patent Foundation could be formed as a non-profit organization that could work on fighting patent abuse with a grassroots approach. The pledge drive reached $37,000 in pledges before it leveled out, far short of the pledge goal.

Prior art and expert witness testimony are key factors in defending against a patent infringement case. Similar to BountyQuest.com (now defunct), prizes would be awarded to those that contributed prior art. The concept of “Pay it Forward” would motivate people to come forward to give expert testimony in exchange for Fight the Patent Foundation making a charitable contribution to a charity of their choice.

Activists go through three stages in my observations, starting at being Optimistic that they can change the world, to Realistic, that change comes slowly, to Jaded that people don't care about the cause because of inaction.

Sad to admit, but I have gone through the steps to the end as I have found that everyone is concerned about patent abuse, but so few will do anything about it.

I started the pledge drive for Fight the Patent Foundation back in September, and at that time it would have been a reactive response to patent abuse cases like Acacia.

Now that the prior art has been found and the court case has started, it would be a proactive measure to start FTPF. But in my jaded experience, people aren't very good about being proactive.

I haven't thrown away my guns on patent abuse issues, I just ran out of bullets.

I believe that the defendants will prevail and they will be victorious in their defense against the broad claims of Acacia's DMT patent. They have the prior art and the attention of everyone on this issue.

My activism will not go away. I am increasing my time with ASACP.org as their CTO to provide the technology from my new venture at http://www.CydataServices.com

CyData will be using its technology to help track and identify child pornography websites. ASACP will use this technology to support its charter of stopping CP websites with its current relations with the FBI and various government and international agencies. CyData will also be involved with copyright infringement detection and playing a role in helping to ease the tension between content producers and paysites. Lawsuits should be the last resort, not a new business model for making money.

I am hoping with my new venture, that I will be able to buy my own bullets next time, nice silver ones, and come back shooting.

Also, given more time and attention to cases like Acacia, and if any other patent licensing foe should come second, maybe webmasters will realize that the knocking sound isn't their neighbors getting their freak on, it's the money-grabbing-patent-wielding-trick-o-treater knocking on your door looking to take money from you.

It does take money to fight and I have been very reluctant to state that so blatantly, but it is the sad fact. I believe a grassroots approach is needed to unearth the prior art and get people involved.

The time will come, I was just too early and like all pioneers heading west into new territories, you get the arrows shot at you first.

FightThePatent.com will still be up. I will still be tracking the news. I just can't devote the daily hours that I put in to contact companies, get people aware and motivated to fight anymore. I need to regroup, get some cash flow going, and then I'll fund the fight myself.

When the next patent abuse issue comes around, you'll be sure to hear me ringing the bells. I hope that at that time, companies will have seen the lesson of Acacia, that you have to be reactive and proactive with information, research, and unity to take a stand.

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