Woz to Paul Allen: Stop Being a Patent Troll

Steve Wozniak told a crowd that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen should be out trying to innovate with new technology rather than doing that "patent-troll thing," according to reports.

Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, was speaking at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose Tuesday when asked about patent trolls, or non-practicing entities that collect or buy patents to sue other companies for infringement, according to The Register (U.K.)

"Paul Allen should be out there investing in companies that are doing something, making products, actually making a new future for the world, and not 'I'm ... going to sue people, and get in bed with the lawyers to make my money.' That's not the right way," Wozniak said. "I don't really dig that – that patent-troll thing."

Allen and his company are suing 11 defendants -- including tech giants Apple, Facebook and Google -- for allegedly using patents developed by his research company Internal Research Corp. Allen's prior lawsuit filed last August was thrown out in February for lacking specific description.

Wozniak's remarks were different from last year, when he was asked about Allen's lawsuits and told Bloomberg News that Allen was merely representing investors. Perhaps that's because Wozniak suddenly remembered his early days with Apple and his first run-in with a so-called patent troll -- RCA.

"And then we find out RCA has a patent on a character generator for any raster-scanned setup," he said. "And they patented it at a time when nobody could have envisioned it really being used or anything ... and they got five bucks for each Apple II, based on this little idea that's not even an idea. ... Any fifth-grader could come up with that approach."

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