It’s Time to Break Up Big Tech

(Source)   Introduction Amazon obtained a place in the popular psyche that has far surpassed its principal market function as an online retailer and entertainment provider. The conventional wisdom was that Amazon operated much like the major industrial powerhouses at the turn of the last century—standard oil, railroads, and steel—and thus warranted the same basic sort of legal treatment that its ancestor monopolies received. Perhaps the laws would have to be updated somewhat, but the idea was that Amazon had justly achieved its privileged position in society through free and fair competition in the marketplace. Jeff Bezos was predestined to be next in the line of a venerable lineage of American entrepreneurs whose spiritedness and ingenuity entitled them the rarefied perches they occupy in public life. In short, Bezos’s outsized influence in society today, a consequence of his unprecedented wealth (now upwards of two hundred billion dollars), has enabled him to lobby lawmakers for exceptionally lenient policies—skirting oversight of his company’s adverse working conditions and slyly evading a number of pesky environmental issues—for a handsome return payment deposited in the coffers of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.  From one point of view, to deny Bezos of his wealth and fame [read more]

The Evolution of Patent Law

Patent Law and Patent Trolls Modern patent law jurisprudence has grown enormously over the last 20 years. Mirroring the boom in Internet technology dating back to the early 2000s, the number of patents filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office has skyrocketed in recent years. While Google, Facebook, and other Internet-driven companies have grown tremendously, patent caselaw has not evolved as fast, which resulting in a significant amount of litigation. In the 1990s, opportunistic entities commonly referred to as non-practicing entities (NPEs) or “patent trolls,” anticipated the continuing growth of the Internet technology industry. Capitalizing on this growth, these NPEs acquired a multitude of patents but chose not to actively use them. Instead, the NPEs charge licensing fees to other businesses and individuals that appear to have infringed upon the patents.” While this act may seem like a frivolous threat, it has resulted in a significant amount of litigation, particularly in the Eastern District of Texas, where 28.6% of all patent cases were filed in 2014 and 43.6% of all patent cases were filed in 2015. Typically, NPEs will threaten suit if a business infringes upon a patent and does not pay licensing fees. When NPEs have sued, [read more]