patent troll

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pages: 443 words: 98,113

The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay by Guy Standing

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, first-past-the-post, future of work, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, information retrieval, intangible asset, invention of the steam engine, investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mini-job, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Neil Kinnock, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, nudge unit, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, openstreetmap, patent troll, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, remote working, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, structural adjustment programs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the payments system, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar

And the patent system has distorted the direction of research and development, so that resources flow towards areas that promise high rental income, not to areas that would maximise the public good or benefit the less well-off. PATENT TROLLING AND HOOVERING In the USA, the monopoly rents gained from patents have spawned a lucrative industry of ‘patent trolls’: firms that produce nothing themselves but buy up unexploited or undervalued patents with the sole intention of tracking down supposed patent violators and demanding they pay licence fees for use of the patent or face court action. On being threatened by trolls, many corporations pay up simply to avoid lengthy and expensive legal procedures. Nevertheless, there were over 5,000 US lawsuits in 2014, driven by multiple filings by patent trolls, frequently aimed at big tech companies. Apple claimed in 2014 to have been the subject of nearly 100 patent lawsuits in the preceding three years.

In areas such as pharmaceuticals and information and communications technologies there is also a problem of ‘patent thickets’, with rival firms holding key patents on some aspect of the overall technology. Witness the ‘smartphone patent wars’, started between Apple and Samsung, which have involved all the main smartphone manufacturers suing each other in various combinations and in various countries, with damages claims running into billions of dollars. Patent thickets and patent trolls have become impediments to innovation in the IT sector because companies cannot move without stumbling over someone else’s patent and having to pay licensing fees to multiple patent owners. A mobile phone, for instance, may have as many as 3,000 different patents. Similarly, in the pharmaceuticals sector, the development of combined drug formulations for people with Aids has been hampered because the drugs are patented by different companies.

In many cases, as noted earlier, corporations buy up patents less to use them than to defend themselves. A paper for the St Louis Federal Reserve, hardly a hotbed of radicalism, concluded: ‘The vast bulk of patents are not only useless, they don’t represent innovation at all. They are part of an arms race. Any successful large company needs a large portfolio of patents to fend off potential lawsuits by rivals and by patent trolls.’13 Besides hoovering up others’ patents, corporations have devised clever tactics to extend patents or the rental income from them. The pharmaceutical industry does this by ‘follow-on’ patenting or ‘ever-greening’ (making small changes to drug formulations and claiming a new invention), by clever marketing that maintains demand for a branded product after the patent expires, or by entering ‘pay-for-delay’ agreements with generic producers, enabling firms to continue to receive rental income beyond the patent term by delaying the entry of cheaper generics on the market.14 The USA, European Union members and some other countries have introduced another extension of rental income for drugs by granting pharmaceutical companies ‘data exclusivity’ and ‘market exclusivity’ beyond the patent term.

pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley


23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser,, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

The result, says one observer, is that ‘lobbying and litigating may be a more profitable way to win market share than innovating or investing’. Today, the biggest generators of new patents in the US system are ‘patent trolls’ – firms that buy up weak patent applications with no intention of making the products in question, but with every intention of making money by suing those who infringe them. Research in Motion, the Canadian company that manufactures BlackBerries, had to pay $600m to a small patent troll called NTP that did no manufacturing itself but had acquired contested patents with the aim of profiting from their defence. Michael Heller’s analogy for the patent trolls is to the state of the river Rhine between the decay of Holy Roman imperial power and the emergence of modern states. Hundreds of castles grew up all along the Rhine, one every few miles, each occupied by a little robber baron princeling living off tolls exacted from boats travelling along the river.

p. 264 ‘a logjam in the manufacture of radios caused by the blocking patents held by four firms’. Benkler, Y. 2006. The Wealth of Networks. Yale University Press. p. 265 ‘the biggest generators of new patents in the US system are “patent trolls” – firms that buy up weak patent applications’. I am indebted to R. Litan for this information. p. 265 ‘Research in Motion, the Canadian company that manufactures BlackBerries’. Baumol, W.J., Litan, R.E. and Schramm, C.J. 2007. Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism. Yale University Press. p. 265 ‘Michael Heller’s analogy for the patent trolls is to the state of the river Rhine between the decay of Holy Roman imperial power and the emergence of modern states’. Heller, M. 2008. The Gridlock Economy. Basic Books. p. 266 ‘In one survey of 650 R&D executives from 130 different industries’.

pages: 327 words: 102,322

Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish, Sean Silcoff


Albert Einstein, Clayton Christensen, corporate governance, diversified portfolio, indoor plumbing, Iridium satellite, patent troll, QWERTY keyboard, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, the new new thing

The other was a business relationship with Telefind’s lawyer, Donald Stout, a former government patent examiner based in Arlington, Virginia, who liked to hunt in his spare time. Stout saw an opportunity to parlay Campana’s patent rights into a revenue stream of licensing fees at a time wireless data was taking off. The two men formed NTP to hold the stranded patents. The skeletal company was part of a growing breed of patent trolls whose primary business was to sue businesses allegedly infringing on their rights. Lawyers represented trolls on the contingency they would share a portion of any court awards. It was a booming business. U.S. lawsuits filed by patent trolls rose sharply to 428 in 2007 and 2,750 just five years later, by which point they accounted for nearly 60 percent of all U.S. patent lawsuits, double the level of five years earlier.4 Stout started the hunt for licensing fees by writing letters to dozens of communications companies suggesting they were infringing on its technology.

He lobbied governments on both sides of the border and spoke to business groups to push for reforms that might prevent the legal brinksmanship that nearly flattened RIM. Washington and Ottawa were receptive, but progress was slow. In this vacuum, tech companies strengthened their legal rights by acquiring patent collections from struggling rivals. With Motorola’s patent chest, RIM would hold a much stronger hand against patent trolls and competitors alike. Balsillie and senior RIM executives and bankers met frequently in Schaumburg with Brown and his team during the spring and summer of 2008. Balsillie initially believed the takeover would happen. Motorola was under enormous pressure from investors to sell its mobility business. Motorola’s weakened condition did not prevent it from slapping a rich price tag on its mobility unit.

pages: 189 words: 57,632

Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future by Cory Doctorow


book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man,, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, Jeff Bezos, Law of Accelerating Returns, Metcalfe's law, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, new economy, optical character recognition, patent troll, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Sand Hill Road, Skype, slashdot, social software, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Thomas Bayes, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

So far, very few of us have been really bitten in the ass by EULAs, but that's because EULAs are generally associated with companies who have products or services they're hoping you'll use, and enforcing their EULAs could cost them business. But that was the theory with patents, too. So long as everyone with a huge portfolio of unexamined, overlapping, generous patents was competing with similarly situated manufacturers, there was a mutually assured destruction — a kind of detente represented by cross-licensing deals for patent portfolios. But the rise of the patent troll changed all that. Patent trolls don't make products. They make lawsuits. They buy up the ridiculous patents of failed companies and sue the everloving hell out of everyone they can find, building up a war-chest from easy victories against little guys that can be used to fund more serious campaigns against larger organizations. Since there are no products to disrupt with a countersuit, there's no mutually assured destruction.

pages: 106 words: 22,332

Cancel Cable: How Internet Pirates Get Free Stuff by Chris Fehily


Firefox, patent troll, peer-to-peer, pirate software, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, WikiLeaks

DRM prevents you from watching, playing, hearing, reading, opening, or copying something whenever and wherever you want. Retail DVDs, for example, are region-coded to play only in specific parts of the world. Retail music, games, ebooks, and software often have DRM restrictions too. (DRM isn’t about impeding pirates but repeatedly selling ordinary customers the same content in different formats.) Opt out. Every act of piracy nibbles at the world of enforcers, patent trolls, ad agencies, techno-optimists, free-marketeers, agents, graphic designers, and flag wavers. Positive liberty. Pirates’ actions embody the system that they want to create: self-organization, mutual aid, direct action, autonomy, voluntary association, opposition to power, exposure and subversion of coercive institutions, and means consonant with ends. Worldliness. A pirate interprets the headline “US judge orders piracy website to remove all links to infringing content” to mean: The website’s owner isn’t a US citizen or resident.

pages: 72 words: 21,361

Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson


Amazon Mechanical Turk, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, business process, call centre, combinatorial explosion, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, hiring and firing, income inequality, intangible asset, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, minimum wage unemployment, patent troll, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Ray Kurzweil, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, shareholder value, Skype, too big to fail, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

This sector attracts a disproportionate number of the best and the brightest minds and technologies, in part because the government effectively guarantees “too big to fail” institutions. 18. Reform the patent system. Not only does it take years to issue good patents due to the backlog and shortage of qualified examiners, but too many low-quality patents are issued, clogging our courts. As a result, patent trolls are chilling innovation rather than encouraging it. 19. Shorten, rather than lengthen, copyright periods and increase the flexibility of fair use. Copyright covers too much digital content. Rather than encouraging innovation, as specified in the Constitution, excessive restrictions like the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act inhibit mixing and matching of content and using it creatively in new ways.

pages: 310 words: 34,482

Makers at Work: Folks Reinventing the World One Object or Idea at a Time by Steven Osborn


3D printing, A Pattern Language, additive manufacturing, air freight, Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics,, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Douglas Engelbart, dumpster diving,, Firefox, future of work, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Hacker Ethic, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Mason jar, means of production, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Network effects, Oculus Rift, patent troll, popular electronics, QR code, Rodney Brooks, Shenzhen was a fishing village, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social software, software as a service, special economic zone, speech recognition, subscription business, telerobotics, urban planning, web application, Y Combinator

Then there's also the impact of these practices on business. Although some traditional businesses see information sharing as a threat, a lot of research shows that, with the possible exception of some very specific cases, such as pharmaceuticals, intellectual property is not that important. Osborn: Unless your business is extorting money out of other companies, then it is. Mota: Unless you’re a patent troll. Did you see that someone actually tried to patent being a patent troll? Osborn: I saw that. That was brilliant. 173 174 Chapter 13 | Catarina Mota: Founder, Mota: I loved that. Intellectual property is more a construct than a reality. It was put into place because it was assumed that people would not create if they could not make money off of their creations and that they could not make money off of their creations without exclusive rights.

But now open source—and all the sharing that is going on across many areas—is showing that we do not necessarily need that particular incentive to create. So the premise behind intellectual property was false from the start. But what happened was, once those laws were put in place, instead of fostering business models that were not based on exclusive rights, they fostered the emergence of business practices that took advantage of intellectual property mechanisms. And that’s what we’re talking about in the case of patent trolling, or secretive information, or traditional content, music, movie, and book businesses. These business models are based on the fact that the legal tools are there, so they use these legal tools to build their businesses. When the underlying scarcity that gave rise to intellectual property disappeared—when we switched from actually having to buy or make physical CDs and tapes to just being able to share anything with anyone at marginally zero cost—those business models became endangered.

pages: 464 words: 127,283

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend


1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Donald Davies, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, off grid, openstreetmap, packet switching, Parag Khanna, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

., “Citi Partners with Streetline and IBM to Provide $25 Million Financing for Cities to Adopt Smart Parking Technology,” last modified April 9, 2012, 17Eve Batey, “Muni App Makers, Rejoice: MTA, Apple Disputes Private Company’s Claims To Own Arrival Data,” SF Appeal Online Newspaper, last modified August 19, 2009, 18Joe Mullin, “A New Target for Tech Patent Trolls: Cash-Strapped American Cities,” Ars Technica, last modified March 15, 2012, 19John Tolva, interview by author, November 10, 2011. 20Steve W. Usselman, “Unbundling IBM: Antitrust and the Incentives to Innovation in American Computing,” in Clarke, Lamoreaux, and Usselman, eds., The Challenge of Remaining Innovative (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 251. 21Dom Ricci, remarks, X-Cities 3: Heavy Weather—Design and Governance in Rio de Janeiro and Beyond, Columbia University Studio-X, New York, April 10, 2012. 22Noelle Knell, “Detroit Pulls Plug on 311 Call Center,” Government Technology, last modified July 11, 2012, 23Michael Batty, “A Chronicle of Scientific Planning: The Anglo-American Modeling Experience,” Journal of the American Planning Association 60, no. 1 (1994): 7. 24Michael Batty, telephone interview by author, August 19, 2010. 25Douglass B.

Most local governments, especially risk-averse and fiscally constrained ones in the United States, will shun this enormous responsibility. They lack the capacity to even negotiate controls over the data streams generated by their citizens as they interact with private vendors’ technologies. Watchdog groups will need to step in and identify where the crucial conflicts lie. (And in fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is doing just this on behalf of a number of transit agencies being sued by another transit-arrival patent troll, Luxembourg-based ArrivalStar).18 Cities will need regular audits, perhaps conducted by a chief privacy officer or chief data officer charged with extending public control over government- and citizen-generated data. An intriguing option is to hand off this data to a trust equipped to manage it on behalf of citizens, covering its costs—and possibly generating a revenue stream for the city—by licensing the data.

pages: 397 words: 110,130

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson


3D printing, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Benjamin Mako Hill, butterfly effect, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Edward Thorp,, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Gunnar Myrdal, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, iterative process, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, patent troll, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Socratic dialogue, spaced repetition, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, Vannevar Bush, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, X Prize, éminence grise

Patents were designed to prevent someone else from blatantly infringing on your idea, but they also function as a response to another curious phenomenon: unintentional duplication. Handing a patent on an invention to one person creates artificial scarcity. It is a crude device, and patent offices have been horribly abused in recent years by “patent trolls”; they’re people who get a patent for something (either by conceiving the idea themselves, or buying it) without any intention of actually producing the invention—it’s purely so they can sue, or soak, people who go to market with the same concept. Patent trolls employ the concept of multiples in a perverted reverse, using the common nature of new ideas to hold all inventors hostage. I’ve talked to entrepreneurs who tell me they’d like to talk openly online about what they’re working on. They want to harness multiples.

See theory of multiples multiplexing, 142 multitasking, pros/cons of, 135–36 Mundaneum, 122 Munroe, Randall, 116 Muybridge, Eadweard, 97 Myrdal, Gunnar, 252 Myung-bak, Lee, 260 Nabokov, Vladimir, 23 Napier, John, 59 narcissism, and social network postings, 220–22 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 183–84 Natsidia, Christoph, 16 “Nature of the Firm, The” (Coase), 152 Navalny, Alexei, 105–6 Naver, 74–75 Netflix, 169 neurasthenia, 224 Nielsen, Michael, 160 Nilsson, Nils, 103 Nintendo, 149 Nook, 82 Norman, Don, 116 note taking, 120–21 novels, early, critics of, 223–24 Obama, Barack, 88, 239 ObscuraCam, 274 Occupy Wall Street, 81 Odnoklassniki, 269 Offer, Daniel, 27 Ogburn, William, 58–60 O’Gorman, Hubert, 251–52 Okolloh, Ory, 45–46, 61–63 omniopticon, 238, 241 O’Neill, Michael, 216–17 “On Exactitude in Science” (Borges), 33 open-source, 112 O’Reilly, Tim, 76 Orwell, George, 106–7, 236–37 Otlet, Paul, 122–23 Otpor!, 267 Pac-Man (video game), 148 PageRank (Google), 33 Pan, Bing, 204 Panagopoulos, Costas, 83–85 panopticon, 236–37 Papert, Seymour, 188–93 Pariser, Eli, 230–31 Park, Clara Claiborne, 132–33 partisan online discourse, 261–63 Patel, Rupal, 19 patent trolls, 64 Pearce, Katy, 269 penicillin, discovery of, 60–61, 63–64 Penny, Laurie, 77 Perry, Rick, 24 Phaedrus (Plato), 68–69, 118 photographic literacy, 105–10 filters, use of, 109–10 LOLcat-crafting, 108–9 photomanipulation, 105–8 political uses, 105–7, 109, 247–48 Photoshop, 107 Pinboard, 154–55 Pinterest, 221 Plato, 68, 117 pluralistic ignorance Egypt, breaking down in, 255–58 social effects of, 252–53 Plutchak, Scott, 208 Pocket, 136 Poincaré, Henri, 131–32 Poke, 242 politics and political activism, 245–77.

pages: 349 words: 114,038

Culture & Empire: Digital Revolution by Pieter Hintjens


4chan, airport security, anti-communist, anti-pattern, barriers to entry, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, blockchain, business climate, business intelligence, business process, Chelsea Manning, clean water, commoditize, congestion charging, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, Debian, Edward Snowden, failed state, financial independence, Firefox, full text search, German hyperinflation, global village, GnuPG, Google Chrome, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, informal economy, intangible asset, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Rulifson, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, mass immigration, mass incarceration, mega-rich, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, national security letter, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, packet switching, patent troll, peak oil, pre–internet, private military company, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, selection bias, Skype, slashdot, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route, transaction costs, union organizing, wealth creators, web application, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero day, Zipf's Law

Vendors (those selling stuff) have a corresponding incentive to try to capture that value, restoring profits that would be lost by too much of Adam Smith's invisible hand. The natural monopoly can benefit users by releasing value. A good example: the Internet. It can also punish them by capturing users and then taxing them without mercy. Your mobile phone bill is a case in point. The dream of every self-respecting patent troll is to get patents on a widely used standard, CSIRO-style. Owning a standard allows the owners -- usually a consortium of firms, often including patent trolls -- decide who gets to implement it. This is how large firms keep control of the audio and video encoding markets, the mobile phone market, WiFi, and so on. Consortium standards are generally backed up with patents (because it's a far easier argument to the regulator to say, "We're licensing our patents under a Fair!

pages: 207 words: 52,716

Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons by Peter Barnes


Albert Einstein, car-free, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, dark matter, diversified portfolio,, hypertext link, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, jitney, money market fund, new economy, patent troll, profit maximization, Ronald Coase, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Yogi Berra

Today, some say, the secrecy is so intense and the thicket of property rights so dense that the advancement of research has noticeably slowed. The U.S. Patent Office has gone along with this, issuing patents for everything from one-click shopping on the Internet to genes that are 99 percent nature-made. Often, companies get patents not with the intention of developing them, but rather with the intention of suing someone else who might (a practice known as patent trolling). Figure 8.1 shows the dramatic rise in number of patents issued over the past few decades. Consumers and taxpayers are burdened as well. Thanks to patents, pharmaceutical companies can charge monopoly prices for up to twenty years after introducing a new drug. This is said to benefit society by providing incentives for research, but according to the Center for Economic Policy Research, the benefit is greatly exceeded by the cost.

pages: 172 words: 54,066

The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive by Dean Baker


Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate governance, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Doha Development Round, financial innovation, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market fundamentalism, medical residency, patent troll,, pirate software, price stability, quantitative easing, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, transaction costs

This is a step forward that will at least call greater attention to outlandish pay packages, but by itself is likely to have little effect on CEO pay. [98] This figure is derived from the industry’s claim that the value that it assigns to “pirated” software was $59 billion in 2010 and that this was equal to 42 percent of total software shipments; see Business Software Alliance (2011). [99] Milliot (2010). [100] Newzoo (2011). [101] There is a whole industry of “patent trolls,” individuals or firms that buy up patents with the hope of finding a major innovation that is arguably derivative of the patent in question. The profit comes from filing a patent infringement suit. The troll just needs to be able to make a plausible case so that it can threaten the company with the possibility of an expensive legal suit and/or an injunction denying the company the use of the technology.

pages: 166 words: 49,639

Start It Up: Why Running Your Own Business Is Easier Than You Think by Luke Johnson


Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Grace Hopper, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, James Dyson, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, mass immigration, mittelstand, Network effects, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, patent troll, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, software patent, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traveling salesman, tulip mania, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators

Certainly, the juicy profits enjoyed by big pharma in the US are part of the reason that health-care costs there are so high – yet we are all beneficiaries of their discoveries and formulations. I believe in freedom for enterprise, but I also think entrepreneurs must be allowed to reap the just rewards for their efforts. Moreover, it is clear that some abuse the patent system to prevent progress. Too many patents are now issued, many of dubious merit – especially in the field of software patents. Patent trolls abound – those who file ‘paper patents’ or ‘submarine patents’ that they never intend to exploit, but merely use as tools to sue unwitting infringers. Both Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, and even Microsoft have suffered from this harmful toll on endeavour. Inventors I have met are fundamentally motivated by a desire to see their creations become appreciated and recognized, rather than an urge to accumulate wealth.

pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, digital map, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, mass immigration, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

While most patent law is exclusive in nature—forbidding non-patent-holders from using a patented “method” without permission for a finite time period—patent law also conventionally involves an element of disclosure, where the inventor is forced to reveal the nature of his or her creation in technical detail. The disclosure is obviously partly designed to help enforce the restrictions in cases of patent infringement, but it was also intended to encourage good ideas to spread more freely, by making them part of the public record. Unfortunately, the modern emergence of patent trolls and squatters, supported by overzealous intellectual property lawyers, means that the protective side of patent law has dominated the connective side. 5 The same pattern appears in rain forests, precisely because there are so many organisms exploiting every tiny niche of the nutrient cycle. That efficiency is one of the reasons that clearing the rain forests is such a shortsighted move: the nutrient cycles in rain-forest ecosystems are so tight that the soil is usually very poor for farming—all the available energy has been captured on the way down to the earth. 6 Innovation, of course, is not the sole reason so much of the world defied the predictions of The Communist Manifesto and embraced the capitalist way of life.

pages: 270 words: 79,180

The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, Kenneth Arrow, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, ultimatum game, Y Combinator

The Fair Trade movement has tried to protect smallholder farmers in the developing world from precisely such middlemen,36 who in Latin American countries are known by the wolfish moniker “coyotes.”37 Middlemen can prey on unsuspecting buyers, too, as when some retailers in the Fair Trade supply chain take advantage of the naiveté of Western consumers by charging markups for the fair trade label that are far higher than what growers receive.38 In general, anyone who preys on the vulnerable or ill-informed fits the bill: in banking, it’s lenders to the desperate, from mafia-style loan sharks to the predatory lenders who exploit the elderly and the disabled.39 In high tech, it’s patent aggregators, also known as patent trolls—companies that build up portfolios of patents not to ease patent licensing to firms that create products but to threaten alleged infringers with costly lawsuits.40 In academia, it’s predatory publishers, those with no scholarly credentials masquerading as distributors of legitimate journals.41 A snake in the grass is still a snake, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf—only more dangerous.

pages: 357 words: 95,986

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams


3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, basic income, battle of ideas, blockchain, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, late capitalism, liberation theology, Live Aid, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

Projects of this scale and ambition are in fact hindered by market-based constraints, since a sober analysis of their viability in capitalist terms reveals them to be profoundly underwhelming.15 In addition, some social benefits (those offered by an Ebola vaccine, for example) are left unexplored because they have little profit potential, while in some areas (such as solar power and electric cars) capitalists can be seen actively impeding progress, lobbying governments to end green-energy subsidies and implementing laws that obstruct further development. The entire pharmaceuticals industry provides a particularly devastating illustration of the effects of intellectual property monopolisation, while the technology industry is increasingly plagued by patent trolling. Capitalism therefore misattributes the sources of technological development, places creativity in a straitjacket of capitalist accumulation, constrains the social imagination within the parameters of cost–benefit analyses and attacks profit-destroying innovations. To unleash technological advancement, we must move beyond capitalism and liberate creativity from its current strictures.16 This would begin to liberate technologies away from their current purview of control and exploitation, and towards the quantitative and qualitative expansion of synthetic freedom.

pages: 302 words: 83,116

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner


agricultural Revolution, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, call centre, clean water, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, Did the Death of Australian Inheritance Taxes Affect Deaths, disintermediation, endowment effect, experimental economics, food miles, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), John Nash: game theory, Joseph Schumpeter, Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, market design, microcredit, Milgram experiment, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, presumed consent, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, selection bias, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, urban planning, William Langewiesche, women in the workforce, young professional

The company also acquires patents from outside inventors, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to solo geniuses toiling in basements. IV operates much like a private-equity firm, raising investment capital and paying returns when its patents are licensed. The company currently controls more than twenty thousand patents, more than all but a few dozen companies in the world. This has led to some grumbling that IV is a “patent troll,” accumulating patents so it can extort money from other companies, via lawsuit if necessary. But there is little hard evidence for such claims. A more realistic assessment is that IV has created the first mass market for intellectual property. Its ringleader is a gregarious man named Nathan, the same Nathan we met earlier, the one who hopes to enfeeble hurricanes by seeding the ocean with skirted truck tires.

pages: 503 words: 131,064

Liars and Outliers: How Security Holds Society Together by Bruce Schneier


airport security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, commoditize, corporate governance, crack epidemic, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, desegregation, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Hofstadter, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, hydraulic fracturing, impulse control, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, iterative process, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Julian Assange, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nate Silver, Network effects, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, patent troll, phenotype, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, security theater, shareholder value, slashdot, statistical model, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, traffic fines, transaction costs, ultimatum game, UNCLOS, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y2K, zero-sum game

Also at the UN, Security Council Resolution 1441—used to justify invading Iraq—seems to have been designed to be ambiguous enough to both support and oppose the use of force. More generally, loopholes are ways institutional pressure is subverted by defectors to do things it wasn't originally intended to do. Think of patent law, originally intended to protect inventors but now used by corporations to attack other corporations, or by patent trolls to extort money out of corporations. Or the legal profession, originally intended to serve justice but now used as an offensive weapon. Or stocks, originally intended to provide capital for companies but now used for all sorts of unintended purposes: weird derivatives, indexes, short-term trading, and so on. These are all defections. Either the law should be effective, or it shouldn't exist.

pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer


accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich,, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

See also Leaver, A. (2013) ‘Growth in whose interests?’, Discover Society, 3, 27 Ferguson, K. Everything is a remix. Video, The implications of our debt to existing knowledge are elaborated further in Part Two. 28 Public Patent Foundation (2011) ‘Organic seed v Monsanto’, 29 ‘Patent trolls’ are even worse – they patent things invented by others but not yet patented and then threaten small and medium-sized businesses with costly law suits (Bob Jessop, personal communication). 30 Bamfield, L. and Horton, T. (2009) ‘Understanding attitudes to tackling economic inequality’, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 31 BBC News (2012) ‘Premier league clubs climb to new highs’, 31 May, 32 Rosen, S. (1981) ‘The economics of superstars’, American Economic Review, 71(5), pp 845–58.

pages: 580 words: 168,476

The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz


affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, declining real wages, deskilling, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, framing effect, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, jobless men, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, London Interbank Offered Rate, lone genius, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, obamacare, offshore financial centre, paper trading, Pareto efficiency, patent troll, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

We talk about the importance of intellectual property, but we have designed an expensive and unfair intellectual property regime that works more to the advantage of patent lawyers and large corporations than to the advancement of science and small innovators.40 Large firms can trespass on the intellectual property rights of smaller ones almost with impunity, knowing that in the ensuing legal fight they can outgun them. Rogue patent trolls (law firms) can buy sleeping patents (patents that have not yet been used to bring products to the market) at a low price, and then when a firm is successful in the same field, claim trespass, and threaten to shut it down as a form of extortion. That’s what happened to Research in Motion, the producer of the popular BlackBerry, which became the target of a patent suit from “patent-holding company” NTP, Inc.

pages: 829 words: 229,566

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein


1960s counterculture, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, British Empire, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy security, energy transition, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, financial deregulation, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, ice-free Arctic, immigration reform, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, light touch regulation, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

Soaring levels of hope had been pinned on both processes and when neither panned out, would-be planet hackers came out of their labs, positioning even the most seemingly outlandish ideas as the only realistic options left—especially with a world economic crisis making costly energy transformations seem politically untenable. The Pinatubo Option has become a media favorite thanks in large part to the work of Nathan Myhrvold, the excitable former Microsoft chief technology officer who now runs Intellectual Ventures, a company that specializes in eclectic high-tech inventions and is often described as a vehicle for patent trolling.12 Myhrvold is a made-for-TV character—a child prodigy turned physicist turned tech star, as well as an avid dinosaur hunter and wildlife photographer. Not to mention a formally trained amateur cook who spent millions researching and co-writing a six-volume bible on molecular gastronomy. In 2009, Myhrvold and his team unveiled details for a contraption they called the “StratoShield,” which would use helium balloons to suspend a sulfur dioxide–spraying tube thirty kilometers into the sky.