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[ NNSquad ] EFF needs your help to stop patent trolls

Hi nnsquad,
EFF is collecting signatures from prominent engineers and technologistsfor a letter to the US Congress calling for reform of the softwarepatent system to protect inventors and inventive companies againstpatent trolls, who use patents for extortionate purposes without evershipping any products.  We're doing this now because there is a windowof political opportunity to actually get this problem fixed in the nextfew months.
Draft text of the letter is below.  If you broadly agree and would liketo sign on, please send me a private reply with:
- Your name;
- A 1-3 line bio that summarizes your main career achievements, which  might be a current or past affiliation, RFCs you wrote, networks you  built, companies you founded, etc;
- Whether you hold US patents; if so, how many you hold, and (if you  know them) the patent numbers

Dear Senators and Congressmen,
We, the undersigned, are a group of inventors, technologists andentrepreneurs. Many of us have founded technology businesses; we haveinvented many of the protocols, systems and devices that make theInternet work, and we are collectively listed as the inventors on [nthousand] patents.
We write to you today about the U.S. patent system. That system isbroken. Based on our experiences building and deploying new digitaltechnologies, we believe that software patents are doing moreharm than good. Perhaps it is time to reexamine the idea, dating fromthe 1980s, that government-issued monopolies on algorithms, protocolsand data structures are the best way to promote the advancement ofcomputer science.
But that will be a hard task, and one we don't expect to happen quickly.Unfortunately, aspects of the problem have become so acute they must beaddressed immediately.
Broad, vague patents covering software-type inventions--some of which weourselves are listed as inventors on--are a malfunctioning component ofAmerica's inventive machinery. This is particularly the case when thosepatents end up in the hands of non-practicing patent trolls.
These non-practicing entities do not make or sell anything. Theirexploitation of patents as a tool for extortion is undermining Americaâstechnological progress; patent trolls are collecting taxes on innovationby extracting billions of dollars in dubious licensing fees, and wastingthe time and management resources of creative businesses. Many of uswould have achieved much less in our careers if the trolling problem hadbeen as dire in past decades as it is now.
Some legislative proposals under current consideration would fix thetrolling problem. These include:
- Requiring that patent lawsuits actually explain which patents are  infringed by which aspects of a defendant's technology, and how;
- Making clear who really owns the patent at issue;
- Allowing courts to shift fees to winning parties, making it rational for  those threatened with an egregious patent suit to actually fight against  the threat rather than paying what amounts to protection money;               
- Ensuring that those who purchase common, off-the-shelf technologies are  shielded if they are sued for using them; and
- Increasing opportunities for streamlined patent review at the patent  office.
While subduing the trolling threat, these proposed changes will not fixthe software patent problem. Congress should consider ways to stopsoftware patents from interfering with open standards and open sourcesoftware; from being claimed on problems, rather than solutions; andfrom being drafted so obscurely that they teach us nothing and cannot besearched. Congress needs to examine the very question of whether theirnet impact is positive. 
But for now, we urge you to implement simple and urgently necessaryreforms. We believe in the promise of technology and the power ofcreation to increase access to information, to create jobs, and to makethe world a better place. Please do not let patent trolls continue tofrustrate that purpose.
PS -- EFF is hiring at the moment!
-- Peter Eckersley                            pde@eff.orgTechnology Projects Director      Tel  +1 415 436 9333 x131Electronic Frontier Foundation    Fax  +1 415 436 9993_______________________________________________nnsquad mailing listhttp://lists.nnsquad.org/mailman/listinfo/nnsquad