A lot of people have credited a John Oliver segment for catalyzing a successful grassroots effort to get the Federal Communications Commission to institute strong network neutrality rules back in February. In yesterday's show, Oliver tried to get the same results with another tech policy issue: patent trolls and the broad software patents they use to shake down the American economy.
In this clip, which aired on Sunday night, Oliver highlights the story of an organization that provides employment services to people with disabilities getting threatened by a notorious patent troll that claims to own the concept of scanning a document to an email address. The same litigious company has threatened hundreds of other organization, seeking thousands of dollars in licensing fees just for using their office scanners. This kind of litigation has cost the US economy billions of dollars.
As Oliver notes, legislation to rein in patent trolls failed in the Senate last year because of lobbying from trial lawyers. But advocates of patent reform hope to be more successful this year.