Fighting patent trolls and corruption with the Magnificent Seven business-model


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Is there a way we can apply this to the Republican Party?

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Love the idea - I wonder if it can work with small designers who have their designs stolen by big companies, as we’ve seen with Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, etc. We need these sorts of slingshots for Davids to fight off Goliaths.

Here’s another movie with remarkably similar plot:


Is not similar plot… The Magnificent Seven (1960) is based in Seven Samurai (1954)… also many westerns are based in Japanese movies.


Anything that relies upon human beings banding together generally ends badly. Consider Pournelle’s “Iron Law of Bureaucracy”.

And how soon before the villagers turn into bandits?

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You mean like, labor unions? Yeah, those generally do end badly – business owners bust them up, because otherwise they generally work well, mostly by keeping greedy, rapacious business owners in check.


I think the missing element is actually to use insurance. The home schoolers have the model to follow- a non profit legal risk insurance agency that then fights the legal battles and sets the precedence.

The kickstarter model is a problem because you have to expose your litigation risk publicly. Nothing illegal about that, but it is a market risk that can’t be controlled if you are going to deal with anything other than indivduals.

Uhm, generally they fail (as far as one might consider they’ve deviated from the one true path) because everything that is run by people is run for somebody (or somegroup), and unions are no exceptions. The problem comes when business owners aren’t actually being greedy or rapacious yet those that control the union decide that the outcome isn’t in their best interests. “Best interest” is merely whatever the whims of those with the power dictate, and it may be completely at odds with the long term viability of the business.

I think you’re working with a fallacious view of how unions tend to operate, a view propagated by those with the power to propagate and turn into “common sense” their views, i.e., the business-owning class.

Just because some unions end up favoring those who control them, rather than the workers they nominally represent, does not mean that all, nor even most, usually do. Also, the fact that workers in societies with high union membership fare better on average than those in societies with low union membership is indisputable.

Finally, to go back to your first sentence, how can a labor union be considered a failure if it is successfully run “for somebody,” that is, the workers it represents?


I was giving an example of when they fail and pointing out that unions are just as susceptible as business to the problems of greed of those in control. Absolutely there are some effective unions that operate in ways that are beneficial to society. I don’t see this dichotomy that you seem to be suggesting that unions good, businesses bad. Some work for their owners/members/executives/administrators (select as appropriate) to the net benefit of society and some operate in a way which is damaging to society. I would argue the latter is a failure, even when some benefit, be those beneficiaries business owners, business execs, union members of union execs.

Getting back to the original subject for a moment (are we allowed to do that?) – The problem remains that this is a double-or-nothing bet; if the trolls manage to win their case, you’re now out both your share of what they want to charge and your share of own lawyer’s fees.

But, yeah, teaming up would be a lot cheaper than each individual getting their own lawyer, and makes it a much fairer fight.

Of course that’s nothing very new – it’s the principle behind class-action lawsuits.

Off topic, obviously, but I think unions, like businesses, are as good as the people running them. There’s no evidence that union leaders are inherently less greedy or rapacious than business owners.

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At one point government was supposed to be our answer to the collective action problem. Sadly, it has become too easy to hijack - easy by design of late.

It’s a fantastic idea, and I think it’s the most promising model I’ve seen to rebalance the scales.

Under the US legal system there are a couple of obstacles that will need to be addressed. The first, of course, is “standing” criteria. Any lawsuits will still have to be brought on behalf of named plaintiffs with valid claims as defined under Fed Civil Procedure Rule 12b. The second is the labyrinth of rules on attorney compensation. Those rules were meant to prevent abusive litigation, but will surely be used instead to defend the abusers. Certainly people like Lawrence Lessig can successfully shape such a project to defeat challenges along those lines… I mention them only because they’ll be some of the first skirmishes in a long fight.

“If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

Great film if anyone here hasn’t seen it yet, I’d highly recommend it.

The idea for the website has merit and probably already happens as a sloppy, organic process of muddling through blogs, forums and consumer advocate organizations. A central place for that kind of group justice would be good, a place for people to gather and form leagues of justice.

Commenters here seem rightly concerned about a mob mentality or the tyranny of the majority, how would a project like this encourage Leagues of Justice while discouraging Leagues of Doom?

When money is involved and an easy click of a button gives a person a cut of that money, it may incentivize a whole lot of people to jump into class action suits without considering the repercussions of that action. More litigation isn’t such a great thing for innovation or creativity as we’ve seen with patent trolling.

Also worth noting Kurosawa was heavily inspired by John Ford’s earlier westerns when making Seven Samurai.

It’s a great film. I also like how it is a stark contrast to modern Japanese film, anime, and manga.

In Seven Samurai, one sword slash and you’re done. In modern media they do damage that would kill them 10 times over, and that just pisses them off enough that they finally draw their sword or start fighting with their dominant hand.

Loosely based, but I remember liking it, is the anime series Samurai Seven.

If it wasn’t for greedy, rapacious business owners we’d probably still be living in caves or mud huts. But you were accurate about unions being a prime example of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy so at least we agree on that.

Yeah, so? I don’t understand why you think that’s a point worth making (aside from considering it invalid – business owners who weren’t rapacious and greedy also helped get us out of caves and mud huts).

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