Warning: minor spoilers to follow
The Kickstarter-funded graphic novel series, Code Monkey Save World by Greg Pak, tells the story of the eponymous coding monkey, Charles, as he teams up with a lovelorn super-villain (somewhat reminiscent of Dr Horrible in Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), following the enslavement of Charles’s human co-workers (including his office crush) by Robo-Queen Laura.
The second instalment of the series published earlier this month and features the origin story of the super-villain, Skullcrusher. As they wait for the computer systems in Skullcrusher’s lair to reboot, Skullcrusher explains to Charles that he found his “true talents really revolve around patent law”.
Alas, this ipcopywriter may be overly optimistic about the prospects of becoming a patent attorney leading to a lucrative career in super-villainy, as Skullcrusher later boasts:
“I’m not kidding about the patent law thing. I was the first to really troll in earnest.”
The perceived abuse by non-practicing entities (more commonly referred to as patent trolls) of the US patent and litigation systems has increasingly been in the media spotlight. This has lead to attempts by the US government to curb this perceived abuse, including the Innovation Act that passed in the US House of Representatives on 5 December 2013 and the US Senate Committee on Protecting Small Businesses and Promoting Innovation by Limiting Patent Troll Abuse having its first hearing on 17 December 2013. The Innovation Act is intended to reform US patent law and make procedural changes that discourage the tactics preferred by non-practicing entities.
That said, if Skullcrusher was one of the first patent trolls* and started a few years ago, it stands to reason that he could have made his fortune from the typically threatening (but not necessarily evil super-villainous) techniques used by non-practicing entities to obtain licence fees. Further, he has filed “two hundred and thirteen patent lawsuits in three years”, a number that appears to be fairly comparable to some of the most notorious non-practicing entities in the US.
Verdict: IP Hit
* It’s not clear whether Skullcrusher is a true patent troll as he runs SCM Industries, the technology company where Charles worked as a programmer in Issue 1, that could well be asserting its patents to protect its products and services.
Laurence Lai 20 December 2013
This article is part of an occasional series of articles that takes a light-hearted look at IP as it appears in the media (films, TV, news reports etc) as an excuse to talk about different IP topics. A vague rating of “IP hit or miss?” may also be given depending on how well the particular IP concept has been incorporated into the media in question.
Previous “IP Hit or Miss?” article – BBC’s Panorama & the Patent Box