SparkFun's CEO vs. patent troll

Originally published at: SparkFun's CEO vs. patent troll | Boing Boing


Best career decision I ever made was leaving the USPTO, which gleefully enables this behavior through all the shitty patents that it grants. Don’t know if much has changed in the 13 years since, but I doubt it.


I had a really wealthy friend who once rattled off how he diversified his “portfolio”.
One of the things that struck me was his comment that he had “Invested in an Inventor”.
He would not speak of it any further than that.

About a year later I learned what a Patent Troll was.


@frauenfelder or @orenwolf
The founder of SparkFun is Nate Seidle, while Nate Silver is the 538 elections guy.


You are right, and I know them both so I should know better. Thank you and my apologies.


No worries. The name stood out to me as “Wow, he really has a lot on his plate.”
Quick google search later


It’s still bad, just different bad.

I would say the pendulum has overshot and swung too far the other direction after Alice v CLS Bank. Now, “subject matter eligibility” can kill about anything under 35 USC 101–Depending on the examiner. The facts matter, but not as much as which examiner you get because there is case law to justify any conclusion.

It’s starting to normalize a bit (post- BASCOM, Enfish, etc.) , but Congress really needs to step in and fix it–like that will ever happen.

Maybe American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings, LLC. will help clarify (i.e., fix their prior screw-ups).

However, SCOTUS is out of their depth when it comes to patent law. As one example, read the transcript of oral arguments from KSR Clearly, then Chief Justice Scalia doesn’t understand patent law–nothing has changed since.


Yeah, that was pretty much how it was when I was examining. Sounds like regardless of how the core problem changes (at the time for me it was the onerous and unachievable-without-cheating count quota system for examiners, which made it impossible to do a quality search on an application), the result, bad faith gaming of the system on the part of both examiners and applicants, hasn’t changed much. Whether an application is actually worthy of a patent was/is generally not a consideration.


Located in Frisco, Texas so that they can get a jury trial in an East Texas court - precisely why Apple closed its North Texas locations.


Is this the same SparkFun that used to sell TV transmitters for the 1.2GHz band and claim they didn’t need a license? And when I contacted them about it they just doubled down and insisted that they did not. I stopped buying from them at that point.

Belive me it hasn’t overshot… wanna see how bad it can get head over to EPO is a flaming mess.


Lately the best bet is to invalidate the patent. If their reading applies to malloc() then it’s easy to blow them away given that malloc() dates back in readily available source code at least 50 years.

ETA: If the plaintiff’s reading of the patent doesn’t apply to malloc() then the defendant can just use malloc(), case closed.


If Congress steps in it will be on behalf of their donors and lobbyists, and the result will be an even worse mess than exists now. Remember how they “fixed” copyright law–basically so Disney could claim rights to Mickey Mouse for the next 20,000 years and Getty Images could claim ownership of every picture you ever took?

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Or someone claiming to have invented email in 1978.


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